Ever wonder how so many birds navigate thousands of miles per year on their spring and fall migrations? There are more than 5000 species of birds that perform this round trip feat every year, often returning to the exact same nesting and wintering locations year after year.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about bird migration is exactly how they manage to find their way every single year. With ongoing research, we are beginning to learn more about how this tremendous feat is being done, and the tools, both externally and internally, birds are using to help them navigate their long journeys.

Inherited Skills

There are a number of species that just genuinely inherit and learn the skills needed and migration routes from their parents and related birds inside their flock. They are quick learners and once a younger bird catches on they can successfully make the journey all on their own.

 

Celestial Navigation

More and more is being found out about this every day, as scientists continue to find a number of species relying on the stars and sun for navigation. Just the same as a sailor, star positions and the positioning of constellations can provide all the information birds need to navigate their way in the night sky.

Magnetic

A wide variety of birds are equipped with certain chemicals or compounds in their brains, eyes, and bills that can aid them in sensing the Earth’s magnetic field.   With this type of sensory skill, it helps the birds remain properly oriented throughout their extended journeys.

Landscape Mapping

These intuitive creatures can actually map their journey by using a variety of different landmarks like rivers, mountains, and coastlines with help from their keen eyesight.