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Avian Migration: The Ultimate Red-Eye Flight

Birds that migrate at night enter a state of sleepless mania and gorge on foods by day, behaviors mediated by their biological clocks

Paul Bartell, Ashli Moore

The Next Leg

Migration, one of the most salient and captivating animal behaviors, continues to mystify us even as our knowledge of it grows. Migratory birds are giving us humans a run for our money. Superficially, their lives seem pretty attractive: They are immune to the maladaptive effects of body fat, they function well without sufficient sleep, they dwell in seasonally suitable locations. Although we still don’t fully understand how birds accomplish these feats, the answers are likely far from simple. At least one unifying principle can gratify our curiosity: Biological clocks are involved in virtually all aspects of migratory physiology and behavior. Perhaps people could learn a lesson from birds, and, rather than resisting our natural daily and seasonal rhythms, march to the beat of our own biological clocks.


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