Animal migration is pretty amazing, if you think about it. How on earth does a bison know how to navigate each year, or birds manage to fly halfway across the world, or whales know which countries to swim to, in order to breed? There is so much wisdom here.
How do animals migrate? Scientists believe it’s due to birds having tiny magnetic portions in their brains, that act like an internal compass. However, not all goes well: some birds get lost, especially in bad weather. The warming climate also affects migration patterns, with the chiffchaff (a tiny bird that flies from England to Africa) and blackcap beginning to stay in England all-year.
Most animals migrate to breed and raise their young. Some wildlife migrates to the UK to escape extreme cold (whooper swans for instance, visits from Iceland in winter). Other species migrate within England, moving between north and south, or high ground and low ground.
When humans start building over everything, migration becomes dangerous. Motorways pose hazards, as they are often built in the opposite dimension to natural migration patterns, without anyone bothering to note which ways animals travel. Read How to Keep Animals Safe Near Roads for more on inventions like wildlife crossings.
- The Ring Ouzel meets a bird that returns from winter in North Africa, written and illustrated by wildlife artist Jonathan Pomrey, in North York Moors National Park. Witness courtship displays, and teh female building her nest and laying eggs. This is followed by the monitoring of hatching fledgling chicks.
- Wintering is the story of Stephen’s move to Dumfries in Scotland, coinciding with migration of thousands of pink-footed geese who spend their winter in the Firth. The book takes you on a vivid tour of landscapes that geese inhabit, to celebrate the short days, varied weathers and long nights of the season. Also see how to help our ducks & geese.
- Barney Goose: A Wild Atlantic Adventure is a story from the Emerald Isle. Tom the lighthouse keeper finds an egg washed up on the beach in West Cork. When it hatches, young Barney Goose lives happily with him, until he feeds a need to fly. What will Barney find, as he travels the Wild Atlantic Way? Carol Ann Treacy is an Irish children’s author and illustrator. She sometimes wishes she could fly and thinks geese are great. Honk!
Become a Toad Lollipop Lady! Each year, toads cross roads to their migration points, and won’t ever change their routes. You can volunteer for Toad Patrol, to help them cross busy roads.
Migrations Further Afield
- The Sea Swallow and the Humpback Whale is the tale of two journeys, as they share the challenge of an epic voyage, as the Arctic summer fades. Follow the animals on their perilous adventure, as they face drifting fishing nets, lurking killer whales, relentless rain and fierce icy winds. This experience is one of nature’s longest and most dangerous animal migrations. Catherine Barr worked for Greenpeace before becoming editor at the Natural History Museum.
- We Travel So Far follows the epic migration of the humpback whale, the determination of tiny hummingbird and other stories – from wildebeest to butterflies, from polar bears to leatherback turtles.
- Incredible Navigations takes us on a tour of migration: butterflies, birds, crustaceans, fish, reptiles and people find their way. Meet dung beetles that steer by the light of the Milky Way, ants & bees that use patterns of light invisible to humans, and sea turtles, spiny lobsters & moths that find their way using Earth’s magnetic field. Meet salmon that return to their birthplace by following their noses, baleen whales that swim thousands of miles, and birds that locate their nests on a tiny island, after crossing an ocean.
- Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys follows the Emperor penguin through snow, ice and bitter temperatures, the great white shark swims thousands of miles in search of seals, herds of elephants on their yearly hunt for water, and millions of red crabs, migrating across Christmas Island. Learn migration journeys of 20 creatures including fruit bats, green turtles and whooping cranes.
- Animal Adventures meets drone bees delivering flowers to the queen, polar bears using binoculars to watch seals, cold-blooded iguanas basking on the beach, Zambian fruit bats who eat twice their weight in fruit each night, caribous calves who can outrun humans, and elephants who don’t give birth for 22 months!