4.2 ounces of dynamite

Sometimes we miss the obvious. In our efforts to “prove” the existence of God, for example, we use metaphysical reasoning, mathematical logic, hilarious speculations, etc. etc. How about a look at the birds of the heavens?

“He created every winged bird according to its kind…God saw that it was good…and let the birds multiply on the earth.” Genesis 1:21, 22

“Hi, Golden Plover here! My brothers and sisters were just a few months old. We had hardly learnt to fly, when our parents left us. They had flown on to Hawaii [from Alaska]. We weren’t aware of that at the time. To tell the truth, we didn’t really care where they were. In fact, all we could think about was our appetite, and we ate ourselves silly…Now, I’m sure you want to know just why I ate so much. Quite simply, my Creator programmed me to. I needed this extra body-weight as fuel for the trip from Alaska to Hawaii. That’s about 4,500 kilometers [2,500 miles]! Yes, that’s right, you heard me, 4,500 kilometers! Not only that but I can’t stop once during the whole trip…I fly for 88 hours, that’s three days and four nights, over open water [Pacific Ocean] without a break. Scientists have worked out that we flap our wings about 250,000 times…God, the Lord, gave us a built-in automatic pilot…Our Creator pre-programmed us with the co-ordinates of the Hawaiian Islands, so that we have absolutely no trouble getting there!” Werner Gitt and Karl-Heinz Vanheiden, If Animals Could Talk, p. 106f

“Tiny songbird can fly the Atlantic, scientists confirm. Blackpoll warbler songbird, which weighs 4.2 ounces, can fly 1700 miles non-stop form New England to South America.”

Tiny songbird can fly the Atlantic, scientists confirm

Blackpoll warbler songbird, which weighs 4.2 ounces, can fly 1700 miles non-stop from New England to South America

A blackpoll warbler sits on a limb in New Hampshire, USA

A blackpoll warbler sits on a limb in New Hampshire, USA Photo: AP

AFP, www.telegraph.co.uk/news, April 1, 2015
A diminutive songbird weighing the equivalent of just three teaspoons of sugar can fly over the north Atlantic, scientists have said, resolving a 50-year mystery.

Tipping the scale at a mere 4.2 ounces (12 grammes), the white-throated, black-capped blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata) migrates each autumn from New England to South America.

For half a century, scientists have debated whether the birds fly non-stop over the ocean or take breaks on land to carry out this marathon flight.

Backpack flight recorders, attached to 40 of the birds, have now provided “irrefutable evidence” that they do it all in one go, the scientists reported in the journal Biology Letters.

A blackpoll warbler fitted with a miniaturised light-sensing geolocator (PA)

The geolocators, weighing only 0.02 ounces, found that the birds completed an astonishing non-stop flight of between 1,410-1,721 miles.

This was the distance from their summer homes in Vermont and Nova Scotia to Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Greater Antilles islands, where they made landfall before continuing to northern Venezuela and Colombia.

The devices were able to track the birds’ flight path but were not big enough to transmit the data in real time.

Three devices with the stored information were recovered for analysis from the Vermont birds, and two from the Novia Scotia group.

Albatrosses, sandpipers and gulls are famous for their ultra-long flights – but they have broad, long wings and can settle on water if they get tired or blown off course.

For a forest bird no bigger than a tennis ball, which would drown if it touched the sea, to do such a feat is a wonder, the researchers said.

“For small songbirds, we are only just now beginning to understand the migratory routes that connect temperate breeding grounds to tropical wintering areas,” said Bill DeLuca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“We’re really excited to report that this is one of the longest non-stop overwater flights ever recorded for a songbird, and finally confirms what has long been believed to be one of the most extraordinary migratory feats on the planet.”

The trackers provided confirmation that had thwarted previous investigations into the blackpolls.

“The indirect evidence in favour of an Atlantic voyage was fairly strong,” said Ryan Norris, a professor of biology at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

“You have birds landing on ships in the Atlantic, radar studies off the tip of Nova Scotia showing the birds heading south, and very few sightings of blackpolls in the southern US in the fall.”

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