Would you believe that of the 850 bird species in North America, more than 300 leave the continent and spend the winter in Central and South America and the Caribbean? In preparation, some transform themselves into “super birds” gorging until they accumulate fat reserves that almost double their body weight in order to have the energy for transcontinental flight.
Others take an opposite approach – flying just a few hours each day. And how do they find their way? An internal magnetic compass, eyes that can see polarized light or even magnetic directions, memorized celestial maps along with many other methods have all have been hypothesized and some convincing data collected.
Research biologist and ASU Polytechnic Wildlife Professor Stan Cunningham will share these and more insights into avian migration during a lecture Dec. 9 at Boyce Thompson Arboretum – accompanied by his impressive photography of birds on the wing.
The presentation begins at 1:30 p.m. in the lecture room of the Smith Building and is open to the public, included with daily admission of $9, and no preregistration required.
For the past three decades Cunningham has lived an adventurous life you’d expect to see depicted on film crawling into black bear dens during wintertime as a wildlife biologist for the Arizona Game & Fish Department and spending a month each summer in Alaska as a professional photographer, shooting vivid pictures of brown bears for magazines, tourist lodges and leading Alaskan photo safaris and ecotourism trips.
A professor of wildlife biology at Arizona State University Polytechnic since 2006, Cunningham is known for his decades of research about bears, mountain lions, and the ecological effects of wildfire.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, he will share some of the secrets scientists have learned on migration and navigation along with some of his most breathtaking avian photography.
Read more about Arboretum events at Ag.Arizona.edu/BTA.
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