The Flight of Migratory Birds by Werner Gitt

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) by J Fenton

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) by J Fenton

The Flight of Migratory Birds by Werner Gitt is a fairly technical, but very interesting article about the migration of birds. While thinking about yesterday’s Birds of the Bible – Migration September 2009, I came across this article. He mentions the Pacific Golden Plover in detail and some other long fliers, like:

“The following equally incredible flight performances are recorded for:

  • the Japanese snipe (Capella hardtwickii): 5,000 km flight from Japan to Tasmania
  • the needle-tailed swift of Eastern Siberia (Chaetura caudacuta): flight from Siberia to Tasmania
  • the American sandpipers (e.g. Calidris melanotos = pectoral sandpiper): 16,000 km flight from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.”

Another excerpt from the article:

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Nikhil Devasar

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Nikhil Devasar

“The birds’ capabilities extend beyond the bounds of our imagination. They can determine their homeward course over long distances, even when all possible aids to orientation have been removed during the disorientation journey. They possess the extraordinary faculty of being able, wherever they are, to determine their position relative to their home territory from their immediate surroundings. And this method of determining location, itself not understood even today, is only the beginning; then comes the real problem, namely flight navigation: mere sense of direction is not enough for this.

During flight over wide, windswept stretches of ocean, a tendency to drift off course cannot be avoided. Such drift must be continually compensated for, as in a feedback system in control technology, in order to avoid losing energy by flying a longer route. The Creator equipped the birds with a precise ‘autopilot,’ which apparently is constantly measuring its geographical position and comparing the data with its individually “programmed” destination. In this way an economical, energy-saving and direct flight is guaranteed. Just where this vital system is to be found and how this operating information is coded is known by no one today except the Creator, who made it.”
To see the whole article – CLICK HERE

 

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