Mesmerizing Maps of Bird Migration

GEOGRAPHY

New maps track the movement of bird species across the U.S. using lava lamp-esque visuals. (Atlas Obscura)

Compare the new maps with our classic high-resolution map of bird migration in the Americas.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Use eBird’s collection of migration maps to track some of the birds in our beautiful high-res map—try Swainson’s hawk or the bobolink. Map by National Geographic

Use eBird’s collection of migration maps to track some of the birds in our beautiful high-res map—try Swainson’s hawk or the bobolink.
Map by National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

Click the map to learn more about the savannah sparrow, whose occurrence is shown above. Map © Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Click the map to learn more about the savannah sparrow, whose occurrence is shown above.
Map © Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology

  • Browse through some of the bird occurrence maps from the good folks at eBird. Many bird species seem to show two yearly migrations. When do these migrations occur? Why?
    • Many species (not just birds) migrate in spring and fall.
      • Birds migrate to areas of greater resources. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations. Birds that nest in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate northward in the spring to take advantage of burgeoning insect populations, budding plants, and an abundance of nesting locations. As winter approaches and the availability of insects and other food drops, the birds move south again.”

 

 

  • A species range is the area a species can be found over the course of its lifetime—including all migrations and hibernations. Check out some species range maps from eBird. These maps let you track the occurrence of a species anywhere in the world. Explore the different base maps (we like the “hybrid” map with a satellite view and country borders) and use the “Explore Rich Media” option to interact with images, videos, and audio of different species. Get to know the tool by answering these simple questions.
    • Compare the species range of the Adelie and gentoo penguin. Which penguin species has a more northern range? (the gentoo)
    • Compare the species range of the bald eagle and California condor. Which species has a more cosmopolitan distribution? (the bald eagle)
    • What is the species range of the scarlet ibis? (the Caribbean coast of South America)
    • From looking at the map, can you guess how the southern brown kiwi and the North Island kiwi got their names? (The southern brown kiwi is native to New Zealand’s South Island, while the North Island kiwi is native to New Zealand’s North Island.)
    • Where can you see images of Indian peafowl besides India? (California, Florida, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, and Australia)

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Atlas Obscura: Hypnotizing Moving Maps of Bird Migration Patterns

Nat Geo: Following the Journeys of Backyard Birds

Nat Geo: Bird Migration in the Americas hi-res map

Nat Geo: What is a species range?

eBird: Occurrence Maps

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: The Basics Of Bird Migration: How, Why, And Where

eBird: Species Ranges

The Great Nature Project

3 responses to “Mesmerizing Maps of Bird Migration

  1. Pingback: What Happens to Wild Animals During a Hurricane? | Nat Geo Education Blog·

  2. Pingback: A bird highways in the sky is a flyway – Alternative Transport·

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