The Nightjar and the Moon

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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brian livesey
Posts: 5838
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:05 am
Location: Lancashire

The Nightjar and the Moon

Post by brian livesey »

It's been known for quite some time that some species of migratory birds navigate by the stars. How many of us have turned our binoculars or 'scopes at the Moon to unexpectedly catch a flock of migrating birds sillouetted against the face of the Moon?
Recent research at Lund University in Sweden suggests that at least one species of bird navigates not by the stars, but by the phases of the Moon. The bird in the study was the European nightjar.
Researchers were surprised by the nightjar patterns of feeding and flight being regulated by the phases of the Moon. Gabriel Norevik at Lund University attached tracking devices to 39 nightjars and observed that the birds engaged in long night-time flights with daytime resting that followed the cycles of the Moon.
Cecilia Nilsson at Cornell University cautioned that the effects of artificial lighting might affect the behaviour of migrating birds that depend on the Moon. Another possible negative effect on nature by light pollution.
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