Animal migration

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Migration is the movement of animals (particularly birds) to live in another place.

With animals, migration is usually a periodic movement to better climate or feeding areas. It is typically repeated in a similar manner each year.


Animal migration presents marvelous examples of good design: how do many creatures find their way to their destination?

Each year, a few towns in California are greeted by the arrival of tens of thousands of monarch butterflies. Pacific Grove, California, is the peculiar destination of a huge quantity of such butterflies each year.

PBS provides a description of the phenomenon.[1] This report notes that one butterfly was tracked along a 1,870 mile route, from Ontario to Mexico. Its actual flight distance could easily have been two or even three times greater, because butterflies do not fly in straight lines.

How do the butterflies navigate themselves? This ability has confounded scientists for a long time, although they now have some understanding of the incredible design features involved. But the question remains: How did these creatures acquire this ability in the first place?

Materialistic explanations are inadequate. In evolutionary terms, butterflies are merely insects far less developed than humans. But most humans could not even navigate, unaided, 1,870 miles to a certain destination.

Simply recounting migration illustrates its wonder:"[2]

There are 12 known pockets of forests in Mexico where Monarchs gather for the winter. They have been seen in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico by the tens of millions, and estimated at 4 million butterflies per acre. All wintering sites are about 9,000 feet in elevation, generally cold with frosts at times. ... The majority of Monarchs from the east side of the Rocky Mountains overwinter in Mexico, but those from west of the Rockies overwinter in groves of Monterey pines or eucalyptus trees at sites along the California coast, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Even more remarkable is how many butterflies die during the migration, and yet their offspring continue on the same journey nevertheless.


See also