100 Seconds 12/9/20

Eons ago, birds perfected a survival strategy for the winter chill, short days, and dwindling supply of insects. Migration, the mysterious and marvelous journey of birds seeking warmth, food, and suitable breeding grounds. It seems like in one day, all the swifts and swallows disappear from the sky. Instead, we hear the crisp honks of geese overhead, piercing the frosty air, urging each other to remain in V formation, saving considerable energy.

Some fly thousand of miles from England to Central Africa, Alaska to New Zealand, Sweden to the stubble fields of Spain. Some rest as they go, some fly non-stop. Some learn the route from their parents, others have an internal compass for direction and length for their first winter migrating, then learn the exact destination for next year. Many die on route due to storms, erratic winds, predation, and us. Us, the ones with intensive modern agriculture dependent on pesticides, the ones who destroy habitat, the ones responsible for climate change, which turns the seasons upside down. The ones who think killing birds for sport is a sport.

Imagine being a small creature flying at night over the frigid, wine-dark ocean. How do they do it? Science has yet to understand fully. We have learned that a protein enhances their ability to navigate in low light, sensing the magnetic field of the earth. Their internal compass utilizes the position of the sun, the stars, and even familiar smells to guide their flight.
At 100 seconds to midnight, the power, glory, and fragility of life on earth.

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