Articles

How Do Birds Know to Fly South?

January 14, 2020


An epic journey lies ahead for this Arctic Tern a Forty thousand mile flight from its Greenland spring nest to the same patch of rocky antarctic ground as generations before The Earth’s magnetic field acts like a map which turns and other migratory birds read using a set of internal tools the first isn’t the beak birds or deposits of magnetite their Scientists think the mineral helps the bird sense fluctuations in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field Which helps keep it on track as it flies The second compass sits in the eye special proteins called cryptochromes absorb blue light that excites molecules inside the protein called flavin One flavin kicks off an electron that is picked up by another when this radical pair spins It tells the bird which direction to fly in it’s essentially a tiny compass pointing the bird in the right direction These special abilities as well as smell and sight help keep Birds on track as they travel towards their home beckoning across the water The next generation depends on it You

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