Children

Such a long journey

Every year, more than 40,000 bird species (that’s about 40% of all the world’s bird species) set off on a journey. Most of them migrate at the end of autumn from higher latitudes where winters are harsh and food is scarce. With the advent of spring they fly back. Let’s see what happens during the migration.

Leader Bar-tailed Godwit (addressing his flock): It’s time to stock fuel in our bodies. We’ll be off to India soon. So, eat as much as you can and fatten up!

Young Godwit: From Siberia, across continents, and over the Himalayas?

Leader Godwit: Yes, non-stop for 7,000 miles. No halts for food. We will go as high as 9,000m while over the Himalayas. And don’t forget, shed your old feathers, grow new ones. Get fit.

The bar-tailed godwits take off. After eight days they are flying over India. It is night time.

Leader Godwit: What’s this? The night sky looks different. I am confused. What are those lights down below? Are they new stars? How can we navigate?

Leader Godwit’s female partner: Use the earth’s magnetic field to guide us.

(Godwits use the magnetic chemicals in their brains, eyes and beak as sensors to land in their usual spot.)

At the time the godwits began their journey, a flock of steppe eagles too took off from Russia for India. They arrive at their destination at sunset.

Leader Eagle: It’s time to break and catch up on some sleep. But, wait... are my sharp eyes playing tricks? The landscape is different. There was never a reservoir here. What happened to the river?

Leader Eagle’s partner: Have we lost our way?

Leader Eagle: I can bet you 30 mice we have not lost our way. But this enormous dam — where could it have come from?

After much debate they decide to land.

Leader Eagle: I was right. We have not strayed from our path. I recognise this...my favourite Haldu tree.

So, you see how migrating birds are getting a raw deal because of us.


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:38:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/such-a-long-journey/article31047743.ece

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