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Bird Migration

'Bird Migration' cover image

Bird Migration

A New Understanding

A fascinating and nuanced exploration of why, how, and which birds migrate.

How do birds travel over thousands of miles? When do birds decide it's time to migrate? Why do some birds migrate, while others don't? Bird migration captivates the imagination of many people, yet key aspects of the phenomenon remain a mystery for most. Even among seasoned scientists, fresh discoveries abound; emerging technologies, such as molecular genetics and transmitter miniaturization, have revealed a new depth of insight into the lives of birds that we never imagined possible. In this book, renowned ornithologist and author John H. Rappole summarizes and translates the latest scientific data behind avian migration into everyday language.

Debunking false ideas about the process that have persisted for thousands of years, Rappole reveals that there are at least five parts to the annual migration cycle, each of which has an important role in the migrant's life history. He explains that female birds control nearly all aspects of breeding and provides compelling evidence demonstrating that migration in the Northern Hemisphere is not a weather phenomenon—rather, it is a form of dispersal in which birds leave their tropical and subtropical homes to take advantage of seasonally superabundant food in temperate and boreal regions, enabling them to raise more offspring.

Highlighting crucial issues—like the role of migrating birds in zoonotic disease transmission and climate change's impact on migration patterns—Rappole ensures that readers come away with a new understanding of why, how, and which birds migrate. As he shares knowledge gained in his forty years of work in the field, readers are invited to join his unfolding voyage of discovery.