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Birds and Navigation

Don't need to ask for directions if you have a bird along!
© Dave Govoni View Large

The natural world sends us messages if we’re open to receiving them. Ancient navigators put their trust in the birds’ amazing ability to find dry land, no matter how far they were from safe harbor.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Birds and Navigation

Adapted from a script by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote.

The natural world sends us messages if we’re open to receiving them. The ancient seafaring peoples of the western Pacific and Polynesia carefully observed the migrations and movements of birds to help them navigate the vast distances between their tiny islands.

Navigator Harold Gatty believed that the Hawaiians may have found their islands by following the spring migration of the golden plover north from Tahiti to the Hawaiian archipelago.

The migratory path of the shining cuckoo may have also helped guide ancient navigators. These cuckoos fly hundreds of miles over open ocean from the Solomon Islands southeast to New Zealand [call of the Shining Bronze-Cuckoo].

[Open ocean waves, wind and water]

On a beach on the North Island of New Zealand, you can find a monument to the great navigator, Kupe, who guided his ocean-going outrigger from beyond the northern horizon. Polynesian navigators often carried frigatebirds with them, which they released and followed to land. The ancient navigators put their trust in the birds’ amazing ability to find dry land, no matter how far they were from safe harbor.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

###

Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Michael Stein

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by L.R. Macaulay.

© 2019 BirdNote      August 2016 / 2019

ID# 080706naviKPLU   migration-05c

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