Riddle of Early Bird Migration Cracked

2,000 volunteer birdwatchers recorded sightings of Icelandic black-winged godwits (Limosa limosa islandica) migrating from Portugal and Spain to Iceland between 1999 and 2004

In the northern hemisphere, birds now return from their winter migrations sooner. Yet, ornithologists don’t know exactly how the birds adapted to return earlier. One possible explanation holds that individual birds changed their behavior to return sooner.

However, recent research observed that individual birds haven’t changed their schedules. Instead, the results of a 14-year-long study of a migratory shore bird species suggested that early-born birds get more worms and can migrate sooner.

In the study, an international network of more than 2,000 volunteer birdwatchers recorded sightings of Icelandic black-winged godwits (Limosa limosa islandica) migrating from Portugal and Spain to Iceland between 1999 and 2004. The citizen scientists observed that individual birds returned on nearly the same date each year. As these birds returned each year to find an earlier greening of Iceland, the monogamous mated pairs of godwits could nest and hatch eggs sooner. The new generation of birds matured and began their migration cycle earlier.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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