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Birds Flight Patterns

Birds have the ability to migrate during the day as well as nighttime. For day time migration, birds use the sun’s position and landmarks to guide them north and south.


Birds will memorize coastlines, wetlands, rivers, and lakes to help navigate them to their destination.



Birds also orientate themselves by following the sun. If a bird wants to fly south in the morning, the sun will be on their left because the sun always rises in the east. For afternoon migration, the sun must be on their right as the sun begins to set in the west.


For night time migration, birds use the position of the stars to guide them. In 1960, Cornell University conducted an independent study using a planetarium to create an artificial sky. Using a song bird commonly found in the eastern United States and Canada known as the Indigo Bunting, star patterns were purposely moved to alter the bird’s flight. What was found was that the birds would always follow the star patterns located in the northern sky close to the celestial pole (Big Dipper.)

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