The Wonder of Bird Migration
January 6, 2015
Bird migration is one of the incalculable wonders of creation. The incentive and ability to migrate long distances is obviously built into the creature's genetic code. It cannot be explained by "natural selection" or mutations.
Evolutionists theorize that birds developed migration during the ice age. "[A]s the great ice sheets retreated from North America, they gradually expanded their ranges to exploit rich temperate food resources and nesting space" ("Migration Basics," hummingbird.net).
This explains nothing, really. It doesn't explain why the birds would continue to migrate when they could easily stay in one place. It doesn't explain how the birds can navigate thousands of miles across the globe to precise locations, how they developed the complex physiological changes that prepare them for long-distance migrations, how they can achieve the precise timings that allow them to arrive at breeding grounds at just the right time for breeding, etc., how they can survive the harsh conditions through which they often migrate, how the Alaskan Bar-Tailed Godwit can fly 9,000 miles non-stop, how the baby cuckoo can hatch and then fly 12,000 miles to join its parents in a place it has never been, etc.
The ice age "theory" is another "just so" story that is not proven and explains nothing.
The rapid advance in micro-technology and satellite communication since about 2010 has led to a revolution in our knowledge of the migratory habits of birds. Researchers are tagging them with geolocators weighing one-fifth of an ounce that transmit packets of information to satellites.
The bird migration award goes to the Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), which spends the summer in the Arctic rearing its young, then flies the entire length of the earth to the Antarctic for its winter holiday. It makes this trip annually, and with the recent advance in micro-electronics, researchers have been able to learn much more about the migration habits of this amazing bird. Previously, it was thought that the tern traveled about 20,000 miles on its journey, but actually it travels an average of 44,000 miles. Terns that breed in northern Netherlands travel 56,000 miles! Over a lifetime of 30 years, the little 3.5-ounce tern will travel roughly 1.3 MILLION miles. The terns fly from the Greenland Sea in the north Atlantic down the coast of Africa. Before they reach central Africa, the terns split into two groups, some continuing down the African coast and across the southern Atlantic Ocean to the Antarctic, others flying across the Atlantic from Africa to South America, then proceeding down the coast of South America to the Weddell Sea and the Antarctic. On the return trip north, the terns do not follow the same path. Instead, they fly a "twisted S shaped pattern" across the Atlantic Ocean. Researchers have discovered that though this adds many miles to the trip, "the birds are taking advantage of the global wind system" and "thus actually use less energy thanks to the wind currents" (Savannah Humes, "The 3.5 Ounce Bird," TodayIFoundOut.com). Do evolutionists really think that birds are this smart? The birds return to the same place and the same colony where they hatched. Though the terns are not sexually mature until three or four years old, the junior birds complete the annual migration nonetheless.
The ability to travel the full length of the globe is so amazingly complex that it requires an Intelligent Designer. "If the Arctic tern uses the stars to navigate, then it must recognize stars in both hemispheres. If the bird uses the earth's magnetic field, then it must know the difference between the south magnetic pole and the north magnetic pole!" (Stuart Burgess, Hallmarks of Design, p. 42).
The Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) is a close second in distance migration. It travels up to 40,000 miles, covering 300 miles a day. It travels from the Faukland Islands off the east coast of the tip of South America to the Arctic Ocean.
The Alaskan Bar-Tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) is another super migrator. Unlike the tern and many other migrators, this bird makes its 7,000-mile, nine-day journey NON-STOP, without landing for rest, food, or water. One Bar-Tailed Godwit that was tracked with a satellite tag flew 6,800 miles from Alaska to New Zealand non-stop in an eight-day flight (www.plosbiology.org). "The godwits gorge themselves on shellfish, until the fat builds up into thick rolls under their skin--up to 55% of their total weight. Then they stop eating and their intestines, kidneys and liver shrivel up to a fraction of their usual size, eliminating unnecessary weight" (Jonathan Sarfati, By Design, p. 88).
The distance record holder among song birds is the Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). This tiny bird, weighing from .5 to 1.2 ounces, flies about 18,000 miles annually, from northern and central Asia, northern Europe, and Greenland to Sub-saharan Africa, crossing ocean, ice, and desert. Tagged Northern Wheatears have flown from Alaska across Siberia, Russia, Turkey, the Arabian Desert, to central Africa.
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