Top 10 Migratory Birds In The World

migratory birds

Migration is the movement between the north and south of the globe, seasonally done by many species of birds. Birds move towards the warmer grounds as a response to change in weather, temperature, wind, habitat for breeding and food availability. It’s a seasonal occurrence, which happens every year at a specific time. The flock of birds goes through a specific flyway, which spans over continents and oceans. These Migrations carries the risk of death for many birds, because of various reasons, like unavailability of food, Hunting by human beings and larger birds, fatigue etc.

A sad reality is that most of the species of migratory birds are declining at an alarming rate. Main reasons behind it are human beings destroying their natural habitat for infrastructure, collisions with large buildings and aeroplanes, hunting, pollution etc. This is the situation for which, now the governments of many countries are coming together to safeguard the natural flyways of these birds. The study of Birds and their nature is called Ornithology. So Here is a list of Top 10 Migratory Birds with some Amazing skills which will Blow your Mind,

Migratory Birds

1. BlueThroat

With its blue and red throat, BlueThroat matches its name and is one of the most beautiful birds on this list. That is the trait of a male BlueThroat, but its female counterpart doesn’t show such Colors. They migrate from Alaska to Central Europe and Asia. It is also a very shy bird, as it hides in dense shrubs In Alaska. Getting to see It in the Icy backdrop of Alaska, is a feast for the eyes for the birdwatchers.

The beautiful species of bird that belongs to the thrush family Turdidae, However, now it is considered as an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. The bird can grow upto 13-14 cm. Talking about the appearance, the species is plain brown except for the distinctive black tail with red side patches. It was discovered on June 5, 1851, by Edward Adams (Surgeon and naturalist aboard the British ship Enterprise). It loves to eat Insects, caterpillars and berries.

The male BlueThroat can be recognized by the quite striking with its blue and red throat along with reddish tail, however, it can identified very easily when the bird is singing or performing flight displays. The bird loved to breed in North America, however, it is still unknown where it goes in winter season. It is known as “Ruiseñor Pechiazul” in Spanish and “Gorgebleue à miroir” in French.

Also Read: 11 Birds With Most Amazing Beaks


Related: Top 10 White Birds In The World

2.The Red Knot

The Red Knot has one of the longest total migration routes of any bird, travelling up to 16,000 kilometres twice a year. It travels from far north in the Arctic to the southern tip of South America. These species are in IUCN’s Red List. Their population declines as a result of pollution and degradation of natural resources at their breeding spots. The medium-sized shorebird loves to breed in the far north of Canada, Europe and Russia. It usually creates nest near water or usually inland. The adult knot can grow upto 23-26 cm long with a 47-53 cm wingspan.

Talking about the appearance, it has short dark legs with a medium thin dark bill. The body of the bird species is mottled grey on top with a cinnamon face and breast and light-coloured rear belly. The unique feature is that the plumage colour turns grey during winters and weight of the species vary between 100 and 200 g, however, prior to the migration they make their weight double. They mostly eat spiders and arthropods obtained by surface pecking and in winters they will prefer bivalves, gastropods and small crabs.

The Red Knot also known as “Correlimos Gordo” in Spanish and “Bécasseau maubèche” in French. The oldest Red Knot known was at least 15 years, 11 months old, however, it was banded in 1986 in New Jersey and later recaptured and released in the banding operations in Delaware in 2001. The population of the bird species is on contonpus decline because of the heavy harvesting of horseshoe crabs that servers as the primarily food for the bird species.

The Red Knot

3. Osprey

An Osprey or Seahawk is a predator which lives on live fish. It has an excellent diving capability and dives up to three feet under the surface of the water. It lives near shallow water grounds where it’s easier to catch fishes. In winter, the osprey, which breeds in North America, moves toward Central and South America and also towards Africa.

The world’s most widely distributed birds survive primarily on fish, however, it has been seen catching other animals such as birds, reptiles and even crustaceans. It loves to eat that fish that it catches by shallow dive in the surface of the water. They have been breeding in North America, Northern Europe, Asia and around the coast of Australia. The lifespan of the bird species is approximately 10 years or more. The oldest known North American Osprey lived to be 25 years old.

Currently we have about 200 breeding pairs in Scotland and they have occupied approximately all suitable properties. The breeding of the species took place in England along the the Lake District, in 2001 and later i nest for over 150 years. The bird species also ready to accommodate in artificial nest platforms specially when there is shortage of trees where they want to live. The long lived birds can live up to 10 years or more.


4.Greater Flamingo

One of the most colorful birds in the world, Greater Flamingo is the largest of all species of Flamingos and it is found in the Indian Subcontinent. These species have a very astonishing lifestyle, as unlike many other birds they are monogamous in nature, that is, they stay with a single partner for their entire life. India is a home to hundreds of Migratory bird species. Mainly these birds species comes to India from Siberia during the winters. India has a large number of bird sanctuaries for the conservation of habitat and food for these birds. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan and Chilika Lake in Odisha are the largest of them. It is also listed as one of the beautiful birds in the world.

The bird species can grow upto 145 cm tall and hence they are one of the tallest flamingos in the world. They feed themselves by wading through water with their heads upside down and using their beaks to filter food. It loves to eat small crustaceans, molluscs, worms, insects, small fish and sometimes some plant matter. Initially, the species is white but later it turns pink when they grow older. The pink colour in feathers is a result of the food they eat. They can be found in flocks of up to 200,000 pairs.

The bird species lives together in flocks also known as dense colonies that can car between 10 to 12 birds majorly on the Galapagos Islands, however on on the African salt lakes it can be over 20,000 birds. These large numbers gives them safety because flocks remain closely packed and individuals are protected from predators. They used to communicate with each other with the help of a deep honking sound just like Goose. They usually seen standing on one legs because they want to keep the hidden leg warm among st their feathers.

Greater Flamingo

5.Bar Headed Geese

Birds reach a great height when they migrate, mainly to avoid any obstacles. Bar Headed Geese is the highest flying migratory bird, with regularly flying over an altitude of 6 miles above sea level. It takes approximately 8 hours for Bar Headed Geese to fly over Himalayan Mountains, to reach Indian Subcontinent from Central Asia during winters. One of the beautiful migratory birds in the world, Bar Headed Geese can migrate upto 1,000 miles in a single day.

Talking about the appearance, the migratory bird is grey and white with two horseshoe-shaped with brownish-black bars on the back of its white head. The overall body is grey, however, the bill and legs are pink, orange, or yellow. The migratory bird can grow upto 75 cm and weighs approximately 1.87-3 kg. It loves to eat plants and occasionally crustaceans and invertebrates. The bird species mostly were seen in Russia, northern India and western China during the breeding season and move to northern India and northern Burma during the winter season.

The most unique feature of the bird species is that the ability to fly over the Himalayas where they can fly at the altitudes of 9,000 to 10,000 meters making them one of the highest flying birds in the world. The population of the bird species is continuously decreasing, however, according to hr IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the species is on the least concern. They also have high tolerance towards some of the poisonous plants such as the Convallaria majalis.

Bar Headed Geese


Some species of Cuckoo migrates between Asia and Africa. Others, which are native to the UK also migrate to Southern Europe and Africa. It is believed that They cross the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara in a single flight
Cuckoos are infamous ones among the birds. They may be known for their melodious voice, as you may have read about it in various fairytales too. But the real story is far from any fairytale. The Cuckoo removes one of the eggs of its host birds nest, instead keeps its egg there, and when the cuckoo kid comes out, it pushes other eggs out of the nest, and then get raised by the host mother. Channel Billed Cuckoo is one of the best singing birds in the world.

The medium size bird species can reach upto 12.6 to 14.1 inches in length and weighs upto 2.1 ounces. During migration, they travel to Africa each September to avoid cold periods and a shortage of food during winter temperate areas of Europe and Asia. Talking about the appearance, both Males and females can be distinguished by the colour of their feathers. The males upper feathers are bluish to grey, however, some females look like males but they have a buff coloured breast with dark lines. The bird species looks like a hawk while flying and produces bubbling sound that resembles the sound of the water that is running out of the tub after removing the plug. The males produce characteristic ‘cuck-oo, cuck-oo’ sound.


7. Arctic Tern

These tiny birds make a remarkable feat as they do the longest migration ever. These are native to the Arctic side of the globe. But in the winters they migrate to the opposite side of the globe, to the Antarctic. Annually they fly over the whole globe as they go back to their breeding grounds. It is also well known as an amazing arctic bird.

The species lose their feathers during the winter season and then grow the new ones. Also, during this period they are unable to fly until new feathers are grown in. The unique feature is that most of the Arctic Terns can find their way back to the place they were hatched. The migratory bird loves to eat insects, small fish, worms, mollusks, and crustaceans, such as crayfish or shrimp. The baby Arctic Terns has grey or brown fluffy feathers.

Arctic Tern

8.The Great Snipe

The Great Snipe flies with a flashing speed of 60 mph over a distance of 4200 miles. This makes it the fastest of all migratory birds. But This species is listed as Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Its population has been decreasing at a fast pace, because of their habitat loss and damage. These birds also face threat from human being hunting them.

The medium size birds known for their short legs and long straight bills. Talking about the appearance, both males and females are brown above with paler buff stripes on the back and dark streaks on the chest. It loves to eat Small invertebrates, including worms and insect larvae. The migratory bird travels to Africa during the winter season. The bad news is that the European breeding population is in steep decline. It takes the help of tailwinds during its flight that helps them to go faster.

The Great Snipe

9.Bar Tailed Godwit

One of the highest flying birds in the world, Bar-Tailed Godwit flies over a distance of 7000 miles without stopping. That’s the longest flight taken by a bird at a stretch. These have been red-listed by the IUCN as a threatened species and are been protected. It flies in a flock between East Asia, Europe and Australia, New Zealand.

The long-billed and long-legged bird species visit UK shores in the winter and mostly seen in the grey-brown winter plumage. It loves to eat shellfish, marine snails and worms and shrimps and the migration is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird and also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal. They migrate in flocks to coasts in East Asia, Alaska, Australia, Africa, northwestern Europe and New Zealand.

Bar Tailed Godwit

10. Hummingbird

This small avian has the most complex migratory nature of all. As the Hummingbird is lives alone its entire life, it doesn’t migrate in a flock too. It preys on small insects and spiders, and it migrates toward Mexico and Panama from US and Canada in Winters. Flyways taken by various individual hummingbirds are usually very much similar. Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world.

The only bird that can fly backwards and some fly at a speed of greater than 33 miles per hour. The bird species spend majority of thier time resting on branches and twigs because hummingbird’s wing beats takes up so much energy. The bird got its name from the humming noise their wings make in flight. One of the most beautiful migratory birds can fly in the rain and can dispel drops of water by shaking thier heads. The bird species when migrate to the United States in the springtime covers 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico by flying for 20 hours without stopping.

migratory birds

So, these are the migratory birds in the world. Each of these birds is miraculous in their own way, and the phenomena of migration are very important for their survival. So Human beings should work together for the conservation of these birds to maintain the ecological balance of nature. International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been working towards achieving this goal. So that we can always witness the splendid beauty of these wonderful creatures.

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