Smaller body, longer wings, and gone sooner

Last year, a group of researchers revealed that migratory birds are getting smaller, while their wings are getting longer. But where exactly does that come from?

Smaller body, longer wings, and gone sooner

Changing the structure of migratory birds parallels something else we’ve seen in these birds for some time: Many species began migrating early because their habitats are warming. But is there a connection between these two developments: physical fitness and early migration? The researchers were curious about it.

They used a private data set. For 40 years, Chicago has collected birds that died crashing into a building. They were measured and then went to the museum. In the end, data of 70,000 birds and 52 different species were collected. Thanks to this data set, they were able to find an answer to the question in this study: Do changes in the body have anything to do with changes in migration?

In this sound you hear the researcher Marketa Zimova from the University of Michigan.

Read more about the research here: Smaller bodies, longer wings, and early migrations: untangling the multiple effects of climate warming on birds. Here you will find the paper: Large-scale shifts in the phenology of bird migration are separated from parallel shifts in morphology.

You can read more about previous research that has already shown that birds change physically: Migratory birds shrink as climate warms, new analysis of four record decades shows.

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Megan Vasquez

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