December 27, 2012

Migratory Birds - Survival of the Fittest!

Hi Guys,

Yesterday morning, I saw a few migratory birds flying over my head. It has been quite some time since I saw them. As soon as I saw them, my mind became so happy. It was then that I realized how much I missed watching these birds. I am not a keen bird watcher, but I enjoy seeing the flock of birds, their amazing pattern and the sheer strength displayed.

The great evolutionist Charles Darwin said that only the fittest will survive. The migration of the birds can be attributed to their survival. It is etched in their genes that they must travel in order to survive. I wonder how the evolution must have taken place. Identifying a place where they can be safe and travelling back and forth every year.
This bird (the white one) is known as the Great White Egret. It is a partial migratory bird (only a part of the species will migrate). It is commonly found in North America and it migrates to south Asia in the winter. I found this bird in a lake that was near my home. I took this photo a year back (on 25-12-11)

Many of the birds travel more than 10000 miles each year with the hope of surviving and creating their successors. The whole story is that they need to travel back another 10000 miles again. This process continues.

Over the time they have evolved in such a way the birds know exactly what they are doing in migration. Before the migration period they start conserving energy and store the food as Fat in their body. Some species of birds don’t stop in between during the migration. A bird species in New Zealand migrates to the northern Hemisphere without anywhere in between. They cover a distance of more than 6000 miles.

Most of the birds travel in a particular route all the time. These routes are genetically imprinted in the birds. They travel along a particular mountain range, coast or any other easily identifiable landmark. Most of these routes are designed in such a way that they consume less energy. Mostly we can see that their destination also remains the same. A particular butterfly in Northern America migrates from Mexico to USA and back to Mexico in a circular pattern. By the time, they complete a journey three generation of butterflies’ passes away. It is genetically programmed in such a way that when a newer set of butterflies come into life, they know exactly where to go.

Also, you must have seen the birds travelling in flocks. Most of the time they are V shaped in nature. This reduces the total energy spent by the birds in order to fly. The bird at the head directly counters the wind and it deflects the wind and the pattern is in such a way that the other birds are not affected by wind. After sometime, the head bird is replaced by some other bird. It is said that this process conserves around 15% of the energy. It increases the speed of the birds by around 3 miles/hour.

It is just mindboggling to know the amount of energy the birds spent in order to survive and pass on their genes. As I write this article, there must thousands of birds flying all around the world migrating from one place to another with the hope of surviving. At the end of the day, it is the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and these birds are born to survive.

Happy Reading!!!

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