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Birds migrate together at night in dispersed flocks, new study indicates
Date:7/7/2008

analyzing dozens of trials, the researchers determined that a significant proportion of the pairs of birds they had tracked were flying at the same altitude, at the same speed and in the same direction. Some of these birds were quite far apart, more than 200 meters away from each other a distance of nearly two football fields and yet they were traveling together.

To determine whether the birds were just being swept passively along by prevailing winds or whether they were actively staying together, the researchers analyzed the flight patterns of insects and other arthropods occupying the same air space at the same time. These tiny creatures would be at the mercy of the wind and so would give the researchers a reliable picture of the pattern of air currents.

That analysis demonstrated that the birds were following their own course and were not simply being blown along by the wind.

"To me, that's the marvelous thing that they're flying in social groups in the middle of the night in the middle of the air, over territory most of them have never been over before," Larkin said.


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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Birds migrate together at night in dispersed flocks, new study indicates
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