Wings Over Water

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Wings Over Water, narrated by Michael Keaton, tells the compelling story of three amazing bird species—the Sandhill Crane, the Yellow Warbler and the Mallard Duck—with extraordinary footage of their fascinating behaviors. All of them depend on the wetlands for their survival. Audiences will be captivated by the triumphs and challenges of these remarkable birds that defy all odds as they head home to the prairies to raise their young.



5 Reasons to Watch Wings Over Water 

Garth Spellman, Curator of Ornithology 

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HOLY AVIAN INVASION! 
Using radar data, scientists estimate that approximately 2.1 billion birds cross the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan to the U.S. Gulf coast every March through May. The birds are moving from their wintering grounds in Central and South America to their breeding grounds in North America. 

THE AVIAN INVASION COMES IN ALL SIZES 
The mass of spring migrants is mostly made up of songbirds. You may know these birds by their familiar names, like sparrows, orioles, grosbeaks and warblers. They range in size from 40 grams to less than 10 grams. However, the smallest crosser is the 3-gram Ruby-throated Hummingbird! 

TALK ABOUT CARDIO
The nearly 600-mile journey takes most birds between 11 and 18 hours, and they make the journey at night. For comparison, an ultra-marathon usually takes a human athlete between 14-15 hours to complete a 100-mile race. These birds are moving fast! 

“HOW FAST,” YOU ASK? FULL THROTTLE! 
The birds fly pretty high, which gives them the ability to take advantage of tailwinds. These winds can boost their flying speed to up to 40 knots or just over 46 miles per hour! 

FAT AS FUEL
The migrant birds load up on fat before departing for the 600-mile sprint. For example, the average Yellow Warbler weighs 11 grams but will pack an extra two grams of fat before flying North. That’s like a 100-pound person putting on 18 pounds of fat over the course of a week! A Yellow Warbler burns about 0.11 grams of fat per hour while crossing the gulf, so if migration takes 18 hours it will have burned off 1.98 grams— nearly all of the fat it put on before leaving. Imagine losing 18 pounds in 18 hours! 

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