Why does the Arctic tern migrate?


The Arctic tern is a fascinating bird that migrates across the globe every year, covering an astonishing distance of up to 70,900 km. This bird’s migration is considered the longest animal migration in the world and is a remarkable feat of endurance and navigation. But why does the Arctic tern migrate? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this bird’s journey and learn more about how it prepares for its epic migration.

What is the Arctic tern?

The Arctic tern is a medium-sized bird that belongs to the tern family. It has a distinctive appearance with a black cap, white underparts, and gray wings. The Arctic tern is found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world, including the coasts of Alaska, Canada, Europe, and Russia. These birds are migratory and spend their summers in the northern hemisphere where they breed and raise their young.

Where do Arctic terns breed and winter?

Arctic terns breed in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world, including the coasts of Alaska, Canada, Europe, and Russia. During the breeding season, they build nests on the ground or on rocky ledges near the sea. After the breeding season, Arctic terns migrate south to avoid the harsh winter conditions in the Arctic. They spend their winters in the southern hemisphere, including the coasts of Antarctica, South America, and South Africa.

Why does the Arctic tern migrate?

The Arctic tern migrates to take advantage of the seasonal changes in food availability and climate. During the summer in the Arctic, the days are long, and the waters are teeming with fish and other prey. However, as winter approaches, the days become shorter, and the sea ice begins to form, making it difficult for the birds to find food. Therefore, to survive, Arctic terns must migrate south, where the climate is milder, and food is more abundant. Additionally, Arctic terns may migrate to avoid predators, such as Arctic foxes and polar bears, which become more active during the winter.

How far does the Arctic tern migrate?

The Arctic tern migrates an incredible distance of up to 70,900 km every year. This journey takes them from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again. Arctic terns follow a zig-zagging path across the globe, covering vast distances over the ocean.

How long does the Arctic tern’s migration take?

The Arctic tern’s migration takes several months to complete. During this time, the birds fly continuously, only stopping to rest and feed. The length of the migration varies depending on the distance traveled and the weather conditions. On average, the migration takes around three months to complete.

What are the dangers of Arctic tern migration?

The Arctic tern’s migration is fraught with danger. During the journey, the birds face a variety of threats, including storms, predators, and human-made obstacles, such as oil spills and fishing nets. Additionally, Arctic terns are vulnerable to changes in climate, which can affect the availability of food and breeding sites.

How do Arctic terns navigate during migration?

Arctic terns use a variety of navigational cues to guide them on their migration. They rely on the position of the sun, stars, and Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. Additionally, Arctic terns have the ability to detect polarized light, which they use to navigate during cloudy weather. The birds also have an innate sense of direction, which is thought to be based on their genetic code.

How do Arctic terns prepare for migration?

Arctic terns prepare for migration by building up their fat reserves and molting their feathers. This prepares them for the long flight ahead and ensures that they have the energy and warmth needed to survive. Additionally, Arctic terns may form flocks before migration, which allows them to share information about food sources and potential threats.

What can we learn from Arctic tern migration?

The migration of Arctic terns is a remarkable feat of endurance and navigation, and scientists have much to learn from this process. Understanding how Arctic terns navigate could help us develop new technologies for navigation and could also provide insights into how animals adapt to changing environmental conditions. Additionally, studying Arctic tern migration could help us better understand the impacts of climate change on migratory animals and their habitats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *