Do birds fly to the moon every year when they disappear from our yards and parks? Perhaps they transform into other creatures or hibernate at the bottom of lakes! For centuries, these wild ideas were at the forefront of scientific belief. Our modern understanding of migration only caught flight with the help of two hunters, a stork, and a cross-continental letter-writing exchange of hundreds of people in the 1900s. All that just to collect the proof that birds didn’t, in fact, fly off to the moon for half the year.

It’s a wild story that is made even more incredible by the birds themselves! In typical bird fashion, what birds actually do when they disappear each year is even more astounding than what we could have imagined. Sometimes, our most outlandish ideas about what animals get up to don’t even scratch the surface of the wonder that’s actually waiting to be discovered.

Image: Birds flying in front of a full moon

Source: Pixabay

A Migrating Mystery!

Every time I learn something new about birds, it changes my perception of what’s possible in the world. Take the fact that they can sleep while flying, for example (imagine sleeping and driving? Yikes!), or that some can mimic the sound of a chainsaw with eerie precision, or even digest bone! Birds. Are. Wild.

But birds were even more puzzling to us a little more than a century ago, when the first migration path of a bird was ever charted. TED-Ed tells us the story of how the world came together around the travels of a common friend in this wonderful video.

Via: TED-Ed. 1

Huge thanks to TED-Ed for bringing us this fascinating look at the wild notions we humans held in the past. Head on over to their YouTube channel to find more brilliant and informative animated videos like this one!

Lucy Cooke was the scientist who brought them this information, and she’s one of EWC’s absolute favorite thought leaders. Regardless of who you are, her view on this world and the creatures we share it with is sure to delight. Check out her TED Talk all about the wonders of sloths in this article!

Even our wackiest ideas about what birds were up to weren’t even close to what they were actually pulling off!

I mean, birds going to the moon would be cool—don’t get me wrong—but can you imagine traveling 10,000 miles over 4 months? Just using your own body? Every year?!

As they said in the video, the many variables of these lengthy trips make tracking the voyages of migrating birds really difficult. But thankfully, we haven’t given up trying to track down our feathered friends. Recently, some amazing minds figured out how to track a bird’s life and where they travel using a single tail feather! Check out this story in this article:

7 minutes

Where Do Birds Really Go When They Migrate?

If you've ever watched a mother bird raise a nest of babies, you've probably wondered where they all go come fall. One feather has now answered our curiosity!

Read More

If you’d like to continue your fascinating ride into bird land, check out this circle all about our feathered friends.

Birds of A Feather, Read this Circle Together!

Explore the fascinating world of birds in this collection of articles!

Read More

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” — Mary Oliver

Think your wildest thoughts!

Even though we laugh at the idea of birds hibernating at the bottom of lakes, or a rookery on the moon, at one point these “wild” ideas were accepted as a strong hypothesis.

As crazy as these ideas may seem to us, birds and so many other creatures have come up with even more insane ways to thrive and stay alive. Sometimes, letting our imaginations run far and wide and sharing even our wildest thoughts may be exactly what we need to actually stumble into the right answer, as long as we remain open to all the possibilities. When we allow ourselves to accept that the unimaginable could actually be the reality, maybe we’ll find that we’re more open to experiencing more wonder in this world—and that we can connect with hundreds of others who are feeling the same!

As always, my friends, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

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Notes:

  1. TED-Ed. “The Spear-Wielding Stork Who Revolutionized Science – Lucy Cooke.” YouTube, 17 Dec. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAQ1Ee5kTMQ. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.