There are many migratory animals in nature: Birds, butterflies, turtles,
salmon and eels are only a few of them. The distances these animals travel
during migration is expressed in thousands, even in tens of thousands
of kilometers. Migration requires enormous amounts of energy. At times,
birds fly thousands of kilometers without landing at all. Furthermore,
migrating animals do not always come across with favorable weather conditions.
Although these tiny living beings struggle against rain, storms, and similar
other hardship, they manage to reach to their destination.
Before proceeding with the migration stories of birds, some consideration
on the concept of orientation in living beings will provide us with a
better understanding of the subject.
Navigation refers to the series of methods employed to plot a route to
reach a destination. This definition already embodies the meticulously
planned nature of migration. When one considers thousands of birds in
a flock migrating in perfect harmony, it becomes more comprehensible that
enormous skills would be required for such a planned movement. The
question is how birds acquired these skills? It is evident that birds
cannot devise these intelligent tactics themselves, the nature of which
is better understood when compared to skills of human beings.
A comparison will provide a better understanding of this issue: imagine
that a man, all alone and completely non-equipped, sets off to a trip
of 5 thousand kilometers. During the course of this trip, any answer he
would give to any question regarding his position and direction without
the help of a compass, map or a similar apparatus would merely be an estimate.
Based on estimated values, one can never reach a destination, and in case
he gets lost, he can never locate his position. In the case of birds,
however, we are not talking about a distance of 100-200 kilometers. Unlike
birds or other migratory animals, man cannot cover thousands of kilometers.
Let alone crossing kilometers, he is likely to lose his way even when
he goes to a different neighborhood.
What kinds of things does man need to find his direction? If he does
not have an apparatus, then, by observing the location of the stars or
looking at plants turning to sun, he can make a general estimation about
his position. This is, however, only possible if he knows how to interpret
them. Still, however, he can never attain 100 % accuracy in his conclusions.
For a definite result, he certainly needs a specific apparatus like a
map or a compass, which may still prove to be insufficient in certain
cases. Today, technological breakthroughs in finding direction have enabled
precision in this field. For instance, a global positioning system called
GPS makes use of satellites in finding direction.
The GPS system ensures a precise determination of a receiver's position
on earth through signals sent by specific satellites on the earth's orbit.
The GPS system yields rapid and reliable results since it operates via
satellites. By the same token, birds can achieve fast and accurate results
in finding direction. That birds innately accomplish the operations, which
are only achievable by the support of high technology, is utterly amazing.
It is obvious that the abilities of birds in finding direction are
specially given to them so that they can migrate.
Why do birds migrate, how do they make very long-distance flights without
ever getting lost, and what determines the timing of migration? All these
questions are among the issues even today science fails to provide an
answer. Formerly, it was thought that birds migrate on account of seasonal
changes. That is to say, some scientists claimed that once there was no
migration but some seasonal changes gave way to it. However, migration
is by no means an incident which could be affected upon a sudden decision.
It requires some special skills like orientation, food storage and the
ability to fly for long periods. It is impossible for an animal not possessing
these characteristics to transform into a migratory animal. Not surprisingly,
experiments addressing this issue revealed that migration is unrelated
to any seasonal changes and it is merely a component of the established
ecological equilibrium of the earth.
One of the experiments made to address this issue was the following:
garden nightingales were subjected to experiments in a lab where internal
conditions such as temperature and light could be varied. Internal conditions
were arranged differently from external conditions. For instance, if it
was winter outside, a spring climate was created in the laboratory, to
match the migration seasons.
Under these conditions scientists anticipated the birds to organize themselves
for migration. The birds stored fat for fuel, just as they do when time
for migration approaches. Although birds organized themselves according
to the artificial season, and prepared themselves as if they were going
to migrate, they did not set out to migrate before it was time. They observed
the season outside and did not migrate.
Considering this behavior of these birds, some questions occur to the
mind like "What makes birds determine for migration?"
and "What are the factors in force determining the time for migration?".
According to evolutionists, living things have "body clocks"
that help them to know the time in a closed environment and to differentiate
seasonal changes. They maintain that birds behave in compliance with this
"body clock". They decide to emigrate when this clock "rings".
At this point, many questions arise: What is the origin of this clock?
In which part of the body is it located? Is this "body clock"
the same in every living being? What would happen if this clock were out
of order or stayed behind? In this case, would birds simply stop migrating?
No, such problems never occur in birds' migration, nor this clock ever
becomes out of order. That is simply because such a clock does not exist.
It is actually not an imaginary clock that makes the birds determine
the time of migration, but the system God created for them.
Birds consume great energy in flight. They need more fuel than all sea-dwelling
and land-dwelling animals. They obtain this energy through quite different
For instance, prior to migration, migratory birds get prepared and start
to store fat in their bodies. Some bird species fly longer distances than
others. For these species, only storing fat may not be sufficient. In
such cases, they find another solution and meet their energy needs by
resting at certain intervals.
Terns that fly polar -to -polar distances set a good example for this:
They cover 30-40 thousands of kilometers during their migration.
Which methods do terns use to store energy so that they can fly 30 thousand
kilometers? To see how these birds deal with the energy problem, scientists
observed them for long periods of time. Their researches led to the conclusion
that, besides storing fat, terns also save energy by landing on floating
The techniques employed by birds to minimize energy consumption during
migration are not limited to these alone.
Using different "flight techniques", some migratory birds reduce
their energy consumption to zero. For instance, storks go up as high as
2 thousand meters with rising warm air currents, and then glide along
swiftly to the next warm air current without beating their wings.
A similar flight technique is used by albatrosses.
These birds, which spend 92% of their lives on the sea, have wingspans
of up to 3,5 meters. The most important characteristic of albatrosses
is their flight style: they can fly for hours without beating their
wings at all. To do so, they glide along in the air keeping their
wings constant by making use of the wind.
One point deserves consideration at this stage. It requires a great deal
of energy to keep wings with a wingspan of 3.5 meters constantly open.
A comparison would be helpful to clarify the enormousness of their energy
needs. A man can hardly keep his arms open for a few minutes. Albatrosses,
however, can stay in this position for hours.
This is due to the special anatomical system they are bestowed with from
the moment of their birth. During flight, the wings of the albatross are
blocked. Therefore, it does not need to use any muscular power. Wings
are lifted only by muscle layers. This greatly helps the bird during its
flight. By means of this special design albatrosses have by birth, they
can fly without any difficulty.
Flying for hours by making exclusive use of wind provides an unlimited
energy source for it. For instance, a 10-kilo-albatross loses only 1%
of its body weight while it travels for 1,000 kms. This is indeed a very
small rate. Men have manufactured gliders taking albatrosses as a model
and by making use of their fascinating flight technique.
While covering long distances, albatrosses make use of the best wind
positions. In the face of counter air currents, they prefer to fly at
low altitudes above regions where winds are blocked by mountains, hills
and trees. To make use of the wind pushing from the back, they go up to
high altitudes where winds are strong. Albatrosses fly in perfect harmony
Another flight technique used by bird flocks is the "V"
type flight formation. In this technique, big strong birds at the front
function as shields against counter air currents and lead the way for
the weaker. With such an organization, a saving of 23% is achieved in
the flock in general.
Employing such flight techniques for the purpose of saving energy requires
being knowledgeable about the laws of aerodynamics. However, the being
that employ these techniques are only birds. It is unlikely that they
can make such plans and devise so complicated mechanisms with their own
wisdom and will.
At this point, we face an obvious truth: the One who commands them
to behave so by designing them in the most perfect fashion is God, the
owner of all knowledge.
Flying demands a lot of skills and many conditions other than described
until now. Some migratory birds fly at very high altitudes. For instance
geese can fly at an altitude of 8000 m. Well, have you ever thought how
these birds manage to respire at such high altitudes? Normally, at such
high altitudes, let alone managing a difficult task like flying, even
breathing becomes impossible. For compulsory flights at high altitudes,
man needs to take additional precautions. For instance, in airplanes,
there exists a special pressure system balancing the interior pressure.
Climbers, on the other hand, can only climb high altitudes such as the
Everest Mountain by the help of oxygen masks. Birds, however, can fly
in those altitudes without problems, which is something quite difficult
for people. That is because the lungs of birds, which are already equipped
with very special respiratory systems, are created in a way to enable
them to fly just like their other organs.
Another subject that arouses interest about birds is how they are unaffected
It is true that birds are often not affected by storms, because they
stay away from stormy regions. But, while flying fast, how do they sense
a storm breaking out way ahead of them? Some ornithologists who made research
into birds' sense of hearing, observed that some birds can hear sounds
of extremely small frequencies, which diffuse to great distances in the
atmosphere. Migratory birds can therefore hear a storm breaking out over
a far away mountain or thunder over an ocean hundreds of kilometers ahead
and change their route to avoid an approaching storm.
Owing to all these properties, birds can migrate to very distant regions.
As we mentioned earlier, migratory birds are very knowledgeable about
their destination and they reach there without being confused. But how
do they accomplish this?
For example, a pigeon flies 1500 kilometers to return to its nest
with no difficulty at all. Furthermore, it does not matter whether
this journey takes place during daytime or at night since pigeons
are equipped with the world's best quality compass. Birds have seemingly
advanced "magnetic receptor" systems enabling them to find their
way by making use of the magnetic field of the earth.
As known, the earth has a magnetic field. The direction of this magnetic
field is the same anywhere on earth, but its intensity changes according
to regions. While determining their direction, pigeons can measure both
the magnetic direction and intensity of the area they fly over by their
natural compass (!). They can even perceive a 2 % variation in the magnetic
field of the earth.
Scientists fail to have a complete understanding of the structure of
this compass. In fact, where this compass rests within the bird's body
remains to be a mystery. Based on subsequent research, it is assumed that
a gland located in the mid -brain holds control of this system. But how
does this piece of flesh, weighing only a few grams, can measure the magnetic
field of the earth?
Let's look at the phenomena of flight from a more scientific viewpoint:
in the brain of a bird, there exists a central nervous system for finding
direction. This system informs the bird about the direction towards which
it has to beat its wings. The question is; can birds coincidentally possess
such a complicated system? Did birds delay their migration until this
system coincidentally formed?
Certainly, the formation of such a complicated system as a result of
a series of coincidences is logically and scientifically implausible.
Moreover, it is also implausible that birds can wait for millions of years
for this "so-called" coincidental formation of a system vitally
important for them. That is because birds which are unequipped with such
a system cannot migrate and, even if they attempted to migrate, being
unable to find their direction and facing severe weather conditions, they
would lose their lives and become extinct in a short while.
Such a flawless system, which could by no means be formed by coincidences,
is granted to those living beings by their Creator, the One Who creates
them from nothing with their flawless and excellent structure and equips
them with all these perfect traits.
This fact is related in the Qur'an as follows:
He is God - the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form.
To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and
earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise (Surat Al-Hashr:
Subsequent research regarding how birds find their direction brought
along numerous questions. Even technology of today fails to explain the
mechanisms through which direction finding systems in birds operate. Basing
the origin of these perfectly operating systems on the random mechanisms
and coincidences of the theory of evolution would be the most unwise thing
The theoreticians of evolution, who even fail to explain how a single
feather came into existence, cannot bring any explanation for the miraculous
"natural compass" inherent in birds.
Every research on living beings reveals hundreds of delicately planned,
flawlessly designed traits. All of these lead to a truth that every reasonable
person can easily recognize. This is the fact that no trait peculiar to
any existing living being can ever come into existence by chance. As we
dwell on the details of structures and traits in living beings, we will
see that they are composed of interrelated, meticulously planned, orderly
and complex systems. It becomes obvious that the evolutionist scenario
asserting that coincidences gave rise to these systems by adding new components
to them over time is improbable.
Let us outline what we have related so far: migratory birds can all alone
overcome many difficulties which seem to be impossible under normal conditions.
While doing this, the only thing they make use is the perfect technology
they intrinsically possess in their bodies. This is a high technology
indeed; it ensures that the bird flying at very high altitudes does not
die of oxygen deficiency, get tired of beating its wings across a route
of thousands of kilometers, and fall down in the middle of the ocean,
become confused while migrating from one hemi-sphere to another while
helping it to hear a breaking storm far away and change its direction.
Migration is specially designed for birds and it has been practiced
by them for millions of years.
It is not only the birds that have amazing migration stories.
The migration story of Monarch butterflies, which live in southeast Canada,
is more complex than that of the birds..
Monarch butterflies normally live for only 5-6 weeks after they develop
from caterpillar. Four generations of Monarch butterflies live within
a year. Three of these four generations live in spring and summertime.
With the coming of autumn, the situation changes. Migration starts in
autumn and the generation that migrates, lives much longer than the other
generations that lived in the same year. The Monarchs that migrate are
the fourth generation in the year. Indeed, the Monarchs that migrate to
the south live six months longer than the previous generations. They need
to live exactly this long to complete their journey and return.
Interestingly enough, the migration starts exactly on the night of the
The butterflies that go down to the south do not disperse after they
pass across the Tropic of Cancer and leave the cold weather behind. After
migrating over half of the American continent, millions of butterflies
settle down in the middle of Mexico. Here the ridges of volcanic mountains
are covered with a great variety of flora. Located at a height of 3,000
meters, this place is warm enough for the subsistence of the butterflies.
For a period of four months, from December to March, they eat nothing.
As the fat stored in their bodies nourishes them, they only drink water.
Flowers that bloom in the spring are quite important for the Monarchs.
After a four-month fast, for the first time, in the spring they give themselves
a nectar feast. They now have stored enough energy to return to North
America. This generation, which lives a two-month life span extended to
eight months, is no different from the three earlier generations in other
respects. They mate at the end of March before setting out to their journey.
On the equinox, the colony starts flying back to the north. Soon after
they complete their journey and arrive in Canada, they die. However, before
they die, they give birth to a new generation, which is necessary for
the perpetuation of their species.
The newly born generation is the first generation of the year and lives
about one and a half months long. Then comes the second and third generations.
When it comes to the fourth generation, migration starts over again. This
generation will live six months longer than the others will, and the chain
will continue in the same way.
This interesting system provokes many questions: how is that the fourth
of every four generations lives six months longer? How does this long-lived
generation always coincide with winter and has done so for thousands of
years? How do these butterflies always start migrating at the equinox,
and how do they attune themselves so sensitively, or are they using a
No doubt, there are no answers to these questions through "evolution"
or other variants on that theory. The butterflies must have borne these
interesting characteristics from the time they came into existence.
If the first fourth generation of Monarchs on earth did not have the characteristic
to live long, then all the butterflies would die within that winter and
these animals would become extinct.
Monarchs must have borne this extraordinary characteristic from the time
they were created. "Coincidences" unquestionably do not have
such a faculty as could arrange the generations of the animal according
to migration. On the other hand, it is also unlikely that butterflies
decided to make their fourth generations live longer and arranged their
metabolisms, DNA, and genes accordingly.
It is obvious enough that monarchs are created with such a trait.
It is God, the possessor of All-Knowledge, All-Power, and the Almighty,
Who has created the birds in the sky, ants on the ground, giraffes, lions,
in brief, all the living beings on earth and inspired them their individual
tasks. Through displaying the astonishing traits He created in living
beings to man, God commands man to ponder over them:
In the 41st verse of Surat an-Nur, God states
"Do you not 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."