How do birds know to fly South? How do they know they're going South?

Not all birds fly South for the Winter, and some other animals also migrate, including butterflies and some fish. Most know it is time to start their journey because the amount of sunlight each day starts to decrease (find out why). Some have built in clocks that tell them it is time to leave, much like people have an internal clock that tells us when it's time to sleep. Scientists aren't sure how birds know they're going the right way, but some of the suggestions are that they navigate by the stars or the sun, that they learn the way from their parents, or that birds can use the earth's magnetic field to line themselves up.

Learn More
The links below take you outside the Power to Learn web site. Your use of the Internet will then be governed by the terms of usage and privacy practices of the particular website that you are accessing.

All About Birds
At this site, find out not only about migrating birds, but also how birds wings are designed for flying, what they eat, how they help people, and much more.

Journey North: All About Migration
This site asks kids and classrooms to send in information on migrating birds and butterflies. The results from these classrooms are posted online so you can see how the animals moved South in the Winter, and back North in the Spring.

Birds at the New York Botanical Gardens
Learn about the birds who call the New York Botanical Gardens home, some year-round, and some just for the Winter, including several types of owls, the black-backed woodpecker, and many songbirds. The Botanical Gardens also host bird walks on some weekends.

For Teachers: About: Birding: Migration
This is a great resource for teachers and high school students on the science of migration. The site gives detailed information about why birds migrate, which birds do, the patterns and types of migration, and what cultures throughout history thought birds did in the Winter.



Power to Learn home Winter Wonderings home Animals Weather Plants and Trees People Animals