Birds and animals, around the globe, migrate from one natural habitat to the other, to suit seasonal and environmental changes in their immediate surroundings.
1. More than all living creatures, who resort to relocating their habitats, migration of birds is more compelling and intriguing as quite a few species travel long distances, sometimes traversing thousands of miles, flying to far off locations, across the oceans, to other continents.
2. There are primarily two major factors responsible for birds to migrate. Natural and man made. For natural causes like climate change, breeding ambiance and paucity of food, many a species are adept and have been undertaking migration, local or transcontinental, much before humanity discovered it. Their peculiar migratory attributes, now genetically embedded in their behavior, suggest that they have been living with it since many a millennium.
3. The pattern, timing and selection of habitats for migration is peculiar of every migratory bird species. But in general, the most profound reasons for relocation of habitats are scarcity of food and onset of inhospitable changes in environment for breeding like hostile climatic and temperature conditions. Changes in day length, though attributed to inducing migration, serve more as a biological clock rather than being one of the primary reasons for migration. It is probably a deciding factor for the timing of undertaking migration.
4. Some species, over the ages, have taken to transcontinental migration and it has become an annual ritual with them to fly to distant locations and return, with a clockwork precision. Prominent among these are; the arctic tern, the great snipe, godwit, sandpiper, black ibis and many species of stork. At the same time some bird species relocate their habitats on the same landmass they dwell. Prominent among them are vultures, eagles, herons, hummingbirds, kingfishers, cuckoos, sage grouse and the like which migrate intracontinental, not traveling very far from their original habitats. This may be attributed to the fact that they find sufficient food, convenient breeding environment and friendly climatic conditions within comparatively shorter distances all around the year. More so, such birds have also adopted to human intervention impact like deforestation, habitat loss due to changes in land use viz. urbanization, mining etc.
5. Transequatorial or transcontinental migratory birds, over the ages, have developed a robust genetic disposition, which has given them a vigorous constitution coupled with lasting lipid storage capacity. By virtue of these hardy inherent traits they can undertake exceptionally long and arduous journeys, sometimes extending close to 50,000 miles.
6. Reports of research and analysis of migratory avian behavior, published over the last two to three decades, suggest that habitat degradation owing to human factors like agriculture, use of pesticides and deforestation has had a considerable impact on declining population of migratory birds in their usual habitats. In the late seventies, when Mexico and Central America were on the course to development, large chunks of forest land were cleared for urbanization, industrialization etc.. This sudden and large scale disfigurement of environment forced many a bird species, which seasonally frequented this neo-tropical zone, to switch over to fresh habitats. But that too had its negative effects, and because of this continuous unnatural intervention, the migratory bird population in the affected regions kept declining. Similar results in migratory patterns of the famous sage grouse were noticed when their habitat faced the onslaught of forest fires, urbanization and agriculture.
7. Governments all around the world are making efforts, to the best possible extent, to restore natural habitats of birds, so that they feel least inconvenienced in their natural migration patterns and in the process conserve a healthy ecological balance to the good of all humanity.
November 8, 2016 7:24 pm
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