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World Migratory Bird Day 2012

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by deletedwriter (subscribe)
An accomplished, well travelled writer and reviewer, Michele resides in Brisbane. Witty and highly articulate, her rivetting reviews show life through the eyes of a highly Gifted Adult viewing a world where she has an IQ in the top 1% of that world.
'In the pines, in the pines where the sun don't shine.
I shivered the whole night through'

Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Image by Mdk572 (Wikimedia Commons)

The official date for this global event is May 8 and is marked around the world. Usually Nudgee Beach hosts something.

This year's theme is, 'Migratory Birds and People through Time.'
Since ancient life, birds have been central to mythology and symbolism. The Egyptian god, Horus is depicted with the head of a falcon. The boss of gods, Zeus was attended to by a giant golden eagle. My Irish coat of arms is an eagle.

The owl is associated with knowledge and wisdom and the swan with grace and beauty (but have you seen one walk?), the dove with peace and the raven with death.

We are not so aware of migratory birds in Brisbane, living in urbanisation and a climate where our trees are deciduous. If you have lived overseas in a cold climate where the leaves fall, you will have seen the birds vanish and the forests grow silent. Birds are an indispensable part of our eco system as they distribute and disperse seeds, pollinate plants and fertilise.

Migratory birds can make epic journeys covering thousands of kilometres. Wearing no back packs and not answerable to Customs, they cross countries and continents. They are unfazed by heavily guarded national borders and the enforcement of International laws. I am surprised that they have not had heroin strapped to their bodies and been used as drug traffickers. They have proved themselves as messengers and hopefully never will as couriers.

The routes they repeatedly use are called, 'flyways' and they use nine major ones for travel. They are expert navigators, using the earth's magnetic field as a compass via their eyes and brain. Some have better GPS systems than others. Along the way they have up to 700 stop over sites where they rest and feed. For survival reasons, smaller birds fly at night. Meanwhile a swan can have a ten foot wing span and eagles fly by day using thermals (not the Captain Cook clothes) but rising currents of warm air. That enables them to use those soaring wings to glide and expend less energy. I thought they looked fit.

Birds know it's time to leave town when day length shortens and they feel it in their hormones and they all get restless. I don't know how they pick their exact time and point of departure but someone must be in charge and everyone in agreement, like Parliament.

A central theory of Aerodynamics has been challenged and fatter birds aren't flapping along using as much energy as once thought. It's to do with efficient use of muscle power. Birds fly as a group to reduce risk of predation and because of the aeronautical advantages. Flying in a V formation, reduces wind resistance and a stronger bird with good navigational skills will lead. That makes them look important but there's no energetic advantage for them and they will drop back at some point and other buff birds will take a turn at the front.

Things like power lines, wind farms and off shore oil rigs affect these birds in modern times. Birds are vital indicators of biodiversity, the health of the ecosystem and climate change so give them a thought on May 8.

'Her heart's as soft as feathers, still she weathers stormy skies.
She's a sparrow when she's broken.
But she's an eagle when she flies.'

Eagle When She Flies - Dolly Parton
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Why? Environmental
When: May 8 2012
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