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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 argonauts of the western Pacific and Polynesia, when navigating the vast distances between tiny islands, observed with great care the migration of birds. Polynesian navigators often carried with them frigatebirds, which they released and followed to land. Risking their lives, ancient navigators counted on the unerring ability of birds (like this Magnificent Frigatebird) to find landfall in the vastness of the great ocean. 

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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Birds and Navigation

Written by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote!

[Open ocean waves and water, possibly against a boat]
The natural world sends us messages if we are attuned to receive them. The argonauts of the western Pacific and Polynesia, when out of sight of land, knew where among the waves they were by feeling the rhythm of the swells coming up their backbones. To navigate the vast distances between tiny islands, these sailors also observed with great care the migration of birds.
[Open ocean waves, wind and water]
The great navigator, Harold Gatty, believed that the Hawaiians may have found their islands by following the spring migration of the golden plover from Tahiti to the Hawaiian chain, as the birds returned to the northern hemisphere. 
Gatty also suggested that the migratory path of the shining cuckoo may have guided open-ocean navigators hundreds of miles, from the Solomon Islands southeast to New Zealand [call of the Bronze Shining-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 to landfall his ocean-going outrigger from beyond the northern horizon. Polynesian navigators often carried with them frigatebirds, which they released and followed to land. Risking their lives, the ancient navigators counted on the birds’ unerring ability to find landfall in the vastness of the great ocean.
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
###
Shining Bronzed-Cuckoo sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by L.R. Macaulay.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org      August 2014     Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# 080706naviKPLU   migration-05b

 

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