Many species of fish, mammals and even insects make astonishing migrations.
But of all the living things on Earth, the most mobile of all are birds.
During their journeys, birds make use of countless features and attributes, each one of which is a separate convincing proof of creation.
The Gaussmeter (which measures force, frequency and magnetic fields), the Earth's magnetic field, aerofoil shape, wing tip vortex. . . To most people, these terms may not mean anything .. They can be unaware of such details as that-for example-the Earth's innermost core is of solid iron, while the outer core is liquid; And that the movement of this outer layer around the inner sets up a magnetic field. Nor do many realize how we benefit from that magnetic field for our very survival on this planet.
Apart from engineers or professionals having a special interest in the subject, people may not know that the airfoil shape present in fans, airplane propellers and the wings of birds establishes a force force when air flows over it, and that this is vital at both take -off and landing. Engineers and experts make use of this information when designing new planes. They also take into account the effects of the magnetic field and take precautions against possible dangers.
However, it's not only those people with specialized training in this field who make use of such facts. Birds, endowed with countless miraculous abilities by Almighty God, exhibit miraculous behavior through their lives. Even though they have received no training in this area of aerodynamics, yet they too display abundant proofs of the perfection of His creative knowledge.
Birds' Expert Estimation of Altitude and Air Conditions
Migratory animals must estimate air conditions correctly-and in advance. This is something requiring meteorological expertise. The Australian bogong moths are one example of this. These moths fly hundreds of kilometers towards a cool region in the Australian Alps in order to escape the humid climate where they spend their caterpillar stage.
During spring, their caterpillars feed in green meadows. When temperatures begin rising in summer, they enter their pupal phase and later emerge as small grayish-black moths. Then, rather than end the summer heat, they set out to a long journey for the Australian Alps, where millions of these long-distance travelers spend the summer, gathering in rock crevices and caves, flying only at night. After reaching the mountain, they hang upside down during the summer and live off the body fat they stored up when they were caterpillars.
In order to reach the Alpine peaks, these small insects must take advantage of the seasonal cold front that moves in a south-easterly direction and that will carry them to where they will rest over the torrid summer months. Scientists believe that these creatures are able to detect barometric pressure changes, or changes in the ion balance in the air, that allow them to make perfect estimates.
The Miraculous Systems in Birds' Ears
Birds have a barometric sense in their ears similar to that in moths. So sensitive are they to even the slightest change in altitude that even if heavy clouds prevent them from seeing the ground, they are able to continue flying in a narrow air corridor 17 kilometers high without losing their way. If we humans possessed a sensitivity similar to a pigeon's or a duck's, we could tell which floor of a building we were standing on just by detecting the variance in air pressure.
A bird's air-pressure sense helps it to estimate flying and weather conditions, just as much as it benefits in terms of maintaining altitude. Sudden changes in pressure typically occur shortly before winter storms, and by detecting these, birds prepare themselves for their difficult migrations. An incorrect estimate could have been fatal to a migratory species. In spring, birds in the northern hemisphere prepare to migrate only when the temperature increases, air pressure falls and winds blow from the south.
Why Do Birds Generally Migrate at Night?
Most birds carry out their vital functions-feeding, nest-building-in the daytime. But for long journeys they prefer night. Coastal birds, as well as such small birds as flycatchers, golden orioles, white-throated warblers fieldfares, and most species of sparrow are classic nocturnal migrants. There is intense activity in the night sky. Telescopic observations during the full moon indicate that up to 9,000 birds an hour pass along the migratory routes. These nocturnal migrations begin one hour after sunset, reach their peak just before midnight, and slowly decline until the day dawns.
Nocturnal migration provides birds with a number of advantages. The most important of these is that it enables them to avoid predators. The majority of nocturnal migrants are small-sized and have weak flying abilities. Flying by night is there before much safer for them. However, that is not the only reason for nocturnal migration, because some coastal birds that are powerful fliers capable of traveling a distance of 3200 kilometers over the ocean without stopping also migrate at night. Another reason why birds prefer to travel at night is the timing of their feeding. In species that feed by day, digestion is normally very rapid. For that reason, prior to migrating,, birds feeding in the daytime have to ingest food at short intervals and store it as fat in their bodies. If small migrants embarked on long daytime flights and arrived, exhausted, at their destination at night, they would have to wait for the following day to feed, since they can not find nourishment in the dark. That would mean many of them dying being unable to obtain energy in the cold air. By flying at night, therefore, these birds engage in multi-programmed movement. They spend the daytime feeding and laying down fat for their nightly migration. When the Sun increases, they rest together feed, and continue on with that same routine.
During Nocturnal Migration, There is No Danger from High Temperatures
Another reasonably-though not fully proven-advantage to nocturnal migration is the low ambient temperature. For birds that constantly flap their wings all day, solar rays pose a risk of overheating. Nocturnal migration prevails that danger. In addition, the energy they expend in flying also produces specific heat. Birds eliminate that heat by evaporating water through air sacs in their lungs-in other words, by means of a kind of internal perspiration.
In all likelihood, birds determine the distances that they are able to fly by means of the water they lose from their bodies as well as the fat they store. Therefore, they are able to lower their body temperatures by taking advantage of the lower nocturnal temperatures and by losing lower levels of water. Reduction of water loss to a minimum increases the distance they can fly.
For all these reasons, birds prefer to migrate at night, and their bodily structures have been created in line with this. Of course, there are also birds that God has created to fly in the daytime. Such species as ducks, cranes, seagulls, pelicans, sparrow hawks and swallows migrate during the daylight hours. Storks and vultures, which employ the gliding technique, are also only able to fly by day, because their mode of flying depends on heat dispersion in updrafts from the ground: they are also transported along the wind deflected off mountains and high peaks.
In conclusion, birds migrate in the manner that their body structures and life styles permit. God created these creatures and equipped them with particular abilities. Everything they do is another proof of the existence and might of God. Therefore, their ev
ery action is equivalent to praise of God.
Birds that Fly at the Same Altitudes as Planes- and the Advantages of High-Altitude Flight
Some migratory birds fly at impossible-seeming altitudes. For example, the dunlin and some other small migratory birds can be seen flying at an altitude of 7,000 meters, which is the cruising altitude of jet airplanes. One species of swan has even been observed flying at 8,200 meters. Some birds even reach the stratosphere (the thin atmospheric layer between 8 and 40 kilometers up). Bar-headed geese have been determined to fly over the Himalayas at a height of 9,000 meters, very near where the stratosphere begins.
We do not yet fully understand how birds determine altitude. However, high-altitude flying provides them with a number of advantages. They are better able to make out features in familiar territory. Flying above clouds and fog at high altitudes affords them increased visibility, and lets them avoid physical obstacles. Also, some birds fly at very high altitudes in order to reduce their water loss to a minimum. Because the air cooler is higher up, and that means less evaporation.
Birds Are Immune to the Difficulties of High-Altitude Flying
High-altitude flying provides migratory birds with so many advantages, but one might expect that also brings with it a number of difficulties. For example, oxygen concentrations at these heights are 1/3 lower than those at sea level. However, birds experience no difficulties, because their bodily systems have been created to suit them for high-altitude flying. The hemoglobin molecule in the blood of Geese and other birds is capable of carrying sufficient amounts of oxygen to compensate for this low oxygen level. They also have dense capillary vessels in their bodies to allow oxygen to reach their flight muscles. The structure of the avian lung, which is unique to birds, ensures that air in the lung constantly flows in only one direction, which means the bird is constantly inhaling clean air, letting it use the oxygen in the air in the most efficient way.
How do migratory birds manage to withstand the cold at such high altitudes? This is still a mystery. Temperatures at these altitudes can fall to as low as-14 degrees Celsius, and migratory birds must survive in this freezing cold for days on end.
Every living thing is created in such a way as to be able to cope with the difficulties it may encounter during the course of its life. Geese can fly at such high altitudes, in an environment where there is very little oxygen and where freezing cold often passes, thanks to the special design in their bodies. No doubt that this design can not have arisen through chance or unconscious natural mechanisms-in short, through "evolution." It is God, the Almighty Lord of the Earth and sky, Who creates the birds with these perfect features. God knows the beginning and end of all things and has created all things, from the Earth to the heavens, with features that are perfect in all regards.
Do not you see that everyone in the heavens and Earth glorifies God, as do the birds with their outspread wings? Each one knows its prayer and glorification. God knows what they do. (Qur'an, 24:41)
[God is t] he Originator of the heavens and Earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, 'Be!' And it is. (Qur'an, 2: 117)
The Advantages of Flying with Extra Stores of Fat
As already stated, birds consume as much food as they can before setting out to their migrations. They convert this food into body fat, because fat is the most ideal fuel. When 1 gram of fat is metabolized, it releases twice as much energy and water as does the same weight of protein or carbohydrates. During migration, these accumulated fats are consumed. However, a number of problems accompany this spare energy that birds carry with them.
For example, the red-throated pipit carries a fat load representing 90% of its normal body weight. This species slowly burns this fat during its 24-hour migration.
Birds use a specific quantity of fuel in order to be able to carry this load of extra weight up to particular altitudes. When they attain the appropriate height, their most advantageous thing to do is to continue flying until all their fat has been consumed. If the bird alights without using all of this energy back-up, it may encounter very serious consequences. For instance, it might land in some location where in a short time it can not find the necessary energy to take off again. Flying with additional stored fat is always an advantage for birds. Every year, for example, coastal migratory species have to make a difficult journey of 12,000 kilometers. During their lifetimes, they cover a total distance equivalent to the distance the Moon and back.
Many people are even unaware of these tiny birds' existence. But when we examine them in detail, we find ourselves looking at extraordinary miracles of creation. These creatures accomplish flawless journeys under conditions that no human being could ever survive. There is no doubt that Almighty God has created birds with all these features. These wondrous creatures are just one of the manifold manifestations on Earth of our Lord's omniscience.