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Flight paths : how a passionate and quirky group of pioneering scientists solved the mystery of bird migration  Cover Image Book Book

Flight paths : how a passionate and quirky group of pioneering scientists solved the mystery of bird migration / Rebecca Heisman.

Heisman, Rebecca, (author.).


"The captivating, little-known true story of a group of scientists and the methods and technology they developed to uncover the secrets of avian migration. For the past century, scientists and naturalists have been steadily unravelling the secrets of bird migration. How and why birds navigate the skies, traveling from continent to continent--flying thousands of miles across the earth each fall and spring--has continually fascinated the human imagination, but only recently have we been able to fully understand these amazing journeys. Although we know much more than ever before, even the most enthusiastic birdwatcher may not know how we got here [and] the ways that the full breadth of scientific disciplines have come together to reveal these annual avian travels. Flight Paths is the never-before-told story of how a group of migration-obsessed scientists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries engaged nearly every branch of science to understand bird migration--from where and when they take off to their flight paths and behaviors, their destinations, and the challenges they encounter getting there. Uniting curious minds from across generations, continents, and disciplines, bird enthusiast and science writer Rebecca Heisman traces the development of each technique used for tracking migratory birds, from the first attempts to mark individual birds to the cutting-edge technology that lets ornithologists trace where a bird has been, based on unique DNA markers. Along the way, she touches on the biggest technological breakthroughs of modern science and reveals the almost-forgotten stories of the scientists who harnessed these inventions in service of furthering our understanding of nature (and their personal obsession with birds). The compelling and fascinating story of how scientists solved the great mystery of bird migration, Flight Paths is an unprecedented look into exciting, behind-the-scenes moments of groundbreaking discovery. Heisman demonstrates that the real power of science happens when people work together, focusing their minds and knowledge on a common goal. While the world looks to tackle massive challenges involving conservation and climate, the story of migration research offers a beacon of hope that we can find solutions to difficult and complex problems"-- Publisher's description.
"Did you know that one of the first ways to measure bird migration was counting the silhouettes of night-migrating birds as they passed in front of the full moon? Or that British radar operators during World War II were mystified by "angels" appearing on their screens that turned out to be seabirds in flight? Or that scientists today can tell roughly where a bird spent the winter by analyzing the ratios of hydrogen, carbon, and sulfur isotopes in its feathers? Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration ... tells the incredible scientific story of how we know what we know about bird migration, tackling the methods scientists use to track this amazing natural phenomenon -- from the origins of bird banding to the latest in high-throughput genetic sequencing and space-based tracking systems..."-- From author's website.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780063161146
  • ISBN: 0063161141
  • Physical Description: 267 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2023]

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 217-253) and index.
Formatted Contents Note:
Introduction: Where do the birds go? -- A bird in the hand -- Looking and listening -- Chasing angels -- Follow that beep -- Higher, further, faster -- Navigating by the sun -- You are where you eat -- The feather library -- Vox populi -- Conclusion: Sky full of hope.
Subject: Birds > Migration > Research.
Migratory birds > Research.
Flyways > Research.
Bird watching.

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Skagit Evergreen Libraries. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at La Conner Swinomish Library District. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at La Conner Regional Library.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
La Conner Regional Library 598.15 HEISMAN 112805 NON FICTION Available -

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