Date: 9/15/20 11:16 pm
From: Pete Sole <pete...>
Subject: Re: [MBBIRDS] Smoke birding question for the experts
Hi Anne,

This is so fascinating, that I want to pile on to what Alvaro wrote. By
the way, he is a pro, with academic training in the field. I'm a "bird
migration enthusiast", with no formal training on the subject. However,
I'll happily share a little of what I've learned. There is a lot of
interesting research that suggests that different species use perhaps, a
mix of different techniques including:

Magnetic sensing.
Geographic mapping, learning not only visual land marks, but also smells
of the land and ocean.
Prevailing wind flows.
Star mapping.
Learned routes from older, more experienced birds in the flock.
And more.

The suspicion is that most species use more than one technique. What I
also find incredible is that for some species, the knowledge is likely
encoded in the genes. This is more likely for species where the adults
migrate at different times from the young. Consider, one common pattern
is that the adults will migrate earlier, so that begs the question, how
do the young figure it out, at night? If you really want to have fun,
ponder the migration of Bristle-thighed Curlews. They migrate from the
western Alaskan coast, to islands in the middle of the Pacific like
Hawaii. To me, that is an incredible navigational ability. If they get
it wrong, they drown. Talk about evolutionary pressure!

On top of navigation, consider the bio-mechanics of bird migration. On
one hand, there are long distance migrants like Sooty Shearwaters and
Swainson's Hawks that may migrate 5,000 to 10,000 miles, with multiple
stops in-between to "tank up" along the way. They have long wings, and
"reasonable" proportions for long migration imho. Then consider that
some hummingbird and warbler species may fly from the Yucatan Peninsula
in Mexico, across the Caribbean in spring to Louisiana, Alabama or
Florida , in one shot. Here is another incredible example, consider the
fall migration path of Black-poll Warblers. Some Black-polls stage in
Nova Scotia or New Brewnswick in eastern Canada and then fly, apparently
in one flight, to eastern Venezuela and Guyana. Some 2500 to 3000 miles
over the Atlantic ocean! A little warbler perhaps the size of your hand
with wings spread, that weighs less than a half ounce.!?!

I'll stop now, but you've asked what I consider to be one of the most
enthralling questions of bird biology. In some ways, we are lucky to
live at a time when microelectronics and batteries are small enough,
coupled with GPS, that scientists like Alvaro, can begin to gather real
data on the migration paths. As far as how birds do it, from navigation
to bio-mechanics, it's an incredible wonder what birds do...

Cheers,

Pete Sole'
Soquel, CA



On 9/15/20 11:02 PM, Alvaro Jaramillo wrote:
>
> Anne
>
>    The exact way in which different species orient during migration is
> somewhat of an unknown. Do all species do it the same way, or not?
> What is known is that birds use multiple different independent
> systems, from stars, to magnetic polarity, land features, polarity of
> light etc. They also can recalibrate systems, based on the angles of
> light at sunset, and they do not have to recalibrate daily, but every
> “once in a while.” As such, they seem to have a pretty robust system
> for navigation. I don’t think one need worry about the birds not
> migrating or getting lost strictly due to the fires and smoke.
> Although they may show more errors, and perhaps less efficient
> migration due to these errors.
>
>   What is the bigger unknown and perhaps a key issue that may not be
> well studied is what the effect of the bad air has on their
> physiology. Birds are high metabolism critters, and when migrating
> they are puffing through a rather immense amount of air for their body
> size. They have a super efficient system that has no “dead air” when
> they breathe, unlike our lungs. So there is air passing through their
> lungs at all times, lots of it, more per unit mass that passes through
> our lungs. If there are issues where the birds cannot breathe
> properly, or their high energy flight requirements are not allowing
> for enough oxygen to get through, that could be a problem. I assume
> that this is not well studied, and is a big unknown, but I may be wrong.
>
> Take care,
>
> Alvaro
>
> Alvaro Jaramillo
>
> <alvaro...> <mailto:<alvaro...>
>
> www.alvarosadventures.com
>
> *From:* <mbbirds...> <mbbirds...> *On Behalf
> Of *Anne Spence
> *Sent:* Tuesday, September 15, 2020 9:28 PM
> *To:* Bird Box MPAS <mbbirds...>
> *Subject:* [MBBIRDS] Smoke birding question for the experts
>
> 9/15/20
>
> Was curious if a more expert birder, "ornithological/scientific-type"
> mind would be willing to
>
> try an answer a question:
>
> Since California has really never seen these types of fires & huge
> clouds of smoke that
>
> "wipe the coastland off the map," what do you think these clouds will
> do to migrating bird flocks?
>
> I've read the Audubon's internet article about how birds will react to
> fires.  The article didn't really answer what the birds would do if
> they've already been migrating.
>
> If they can't see the moon while flying or sky while flying at night
> how can they navigate?
>
> Will they just stay in place until the smoke clears completely?
>
> Or move a little at a time?
>
> Hope this isn't a stupid question..
>
> Weather West <https://weatherwest.com/archives/7532>
>
> Audubon.org <https://www.audubon.org/news/how-wildfires-affect-birds>
>
> Thanks,
>
> /Anne Spence/
>
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