Birds Can Predict Storm’s Arrival

March 8, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. track /træk/ (v.) – to follow the movement of something
Example: Researchers tracked the flight path of 20 eagles for one year.

2. seasonal /ˈsi zə nl/ (adj.) – depending on a particular season or time of the year
Example: Some birds do their seasonal migration twice a year.

3. breeding ground /ˈbri dɪŋ graʊnd/ (n.) – a place where animals go to reproduce
Example: Activists launched a project to protect the birds’ breeding grounds.

4. evacuate /ɪˈvæk yuˌeɪt/ (v.) – to leave for safety purposes
Example: Weather officials ordered the townspeople to evacuate their homes.

5. elude /ɪˈlud/ (v.) – to avoid something undesirable
Example: The birds eluded the hunters by flying swiftly.


Read the text below.
Scientists have discovered the ability of golden-winged warblers to detect a storm’s arrival.

Originally, researchers from the University of Tennessee and Minnesota just wanted to test if tracking the birds was possible. Surprisingly, the birds did not simply support the team’s hypothesis but also paved the way to a new discovery.

In May 2013, the researchers placed lightweight geolocators on 20 warblers to observe their seasonal migration. A geolocator is a device that tracks the user’s whereabouts. From South America, the birds traveled several kilometers to their breeding grounds in the Cumberland Mountains of north-eastern Tennessee. By April 2014, only nine of the birds remained tracked. Researchers noted that these birds went back south after just arriving at their supposed destination.

The scientists found that the unexpected travel of the birds happened at the same time the Weather Channel reported on a storm headed into the area. The warblers evacuated the area more than 24 hours before the storm’s arrival. The birds flew 1,500 kilometers in five days to protect themselves. By May, the birds returned to their breeding area after the storm had passed.

According to the researchers, the birds were able to escape because of the infrasound they heard from the storm. Severe weather emits infrasound at a low-frequency level, which cannot be heard by humans.

While the birds eluded harm, scientists noted that those unplanned flights cost the birds a lot of time and energy that should have been spent on reproducing.

For their next study, the researchers plan to place geolocators on several warblers and related species to study their behavior during winter season.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think the warbler’s ability to detect a storm will be helpful for humans?
·         How can the scientists help the birds by tracking their migration?

Discussion B

·         Do you think weather forecasts are accurate? Why or why not?
·         How important is it to properly predict the weather? 

March 8, 2015