Flying the Unfriendly Skies

December 01, 2014

Still recovering from Thanksgiving weekend traffic? Well, things could be worse…you could be a honey buzzard en route to its winter holiday. On their annual trip between the Netherland’s Veluwe forest and the western coast of Africa, these birds—which have wingspans of up to five feet—have to dodge fierce storms and hunters. (Even the Waze app can’t steer you away from a speeding bullet.) Researchers at the University of Amsterdam tracked 12 of these buzzards on the way to their wintering grounds, collecting the birds’ latitude, longitude, and elevation, and the graphic artists at 422 South turned two of their paths into a laser light show.

In this longer video, the female buzzard (shown in pink) is forced into the Sahara Desert (likely by strong winds) on her way back up north. That’s one heck of a detour. But the more permanent hazards for this species are deforestation, hunting, and pesticides that diminish what honey buzzards like to eat most: bees and wasps. It's clear these raptors are going down in number, but when the birds go up and over the continents, it's downright dizzying. 

Track The Paths Of Two Birds On An Epic Intercontinental Migration

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