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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2007

Migration Champion

Every year, millions of people travel to see the mountains of East Tennessee, the white, sandy beaches of Florida, the giant Redwood trees of California, and the wildlife of Alaska. Can you imagine how difficult these journeys would be without the help of maps, signs, satellites, or compasses? We simply could not go very far on Earth and expect to reach our intended destination without certain navigational aids.

In view of how much humans depend on things to help them travel, have you ever considered the various migratory animals that travel thousands of miles without outside assistance? The Arctic tern is just one of many animals that travels great distances around the world without the help of navigational devices or “tourist guides.” As the name implies, Arctic terns live in the Arctic regions of the Earth. During the spring, they breed and raise their young in such places as Canada, Greenland, and northern Russia. They feed on insects, worms, fish, and crustaceans. Then, in the fall of the year, they begin their migration south, to their Antarctic winter feeding grounds.

This journey is no walk in the park. Arctic terns fly thousands of miles in only a few weeks to reach their destination. One Arctic tern was tracked migrating from above the Arctic Circle in northern Russia all the way to Australia—a trip of 14,000 miles. Another Arctic tern (weighing only a few ounces) was tagged in Canada before it was old enough to fly. Just 90 days later, however, it was picked up in southern Africa—9,000 miles away. No wonder so many people call this bird the “Migration Champion.”

What’s even more amazing than the distance Arctic terns can fly is their return home in the spring. Without help from a map, a compass, or even a parent, Arctic terns can fly more than 10,000 miles back to where they hatched as a baby bird. Scientists have studied the migration of Artic terns for decades and still cannot adequately explain this “age-old riddle.” Try as they might, evolutionists can only offer woeful (and often contradictory) theories, at best. Christians, on the other hand, have no problem explaining this amazing bird: the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator endowed it with the amazing trait we call “instinct.”

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