Magnetic Birds?


Most of us have heard a few of the theories that are offered to explain how birds are able to migrate for thousands of miles to an exact spot. The arctic tern migrates 22,000 miles a year to winter in the same spot where it wintered the previous year. But most birds seem to have this amazing ability even if they don’t use it as often or to travel as far.

In one study, scientists took a sea bird called the Manx shearwater from its nest on the coast of Wales to Boston and released it. The route back home across the featureless Atlantic is not a familiar one to the shearwater. Yet, twelve and one half days later the shearwater showed up back at its nest, over 3,000 miles from Boston.

The most dramatic research in recent years led to the discovery that many birds have a small amount of magnetic material in their brains, which seems to act like a built in compass to help them tell where they are and where they are going. But additional research has shown that birds usually use more than just one method to navigate. They also use the sun, stars, changes in barometric pressure, low frequency sounds made by the wind and sea … and even odors.

A bird’s ability to navigate using only one of these methods would be amazing enough. But the fact that birds have several methods available to them is a testimony to their Creator, who provided them with back up methods as well. If no detail of a small bird’s need is too unimportant for His attention, imagine how much more He is concerned about the details of our lives.

Matthew 10:29
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

Father, forgive me for those times when I have thought that some detail which troubled me was too small to bring to you. I know, because You have told me so in the Bible, that You desire an even closer relationship with me than we now enjoy. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Amen.

Ref: Cook, Patrick. “How do birds find where they’re going?” Science 84. p. 26. Image: P puffinus griseus (PD)

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