An Urge, an Instinct, and the Path Ahead

great migrationsben hoare
At any moment somewhere in the world millions of migratory animals are on the move. From fleet-footed antelopes to colossal whales and featherweight butterflies, an extraordinary variety of species embark on long and difficult journeys across land, through rivers and oceans, and in the air.” — Ben Hoare, from Animal Migration: Remarkable Journeys in the Wild

Nature’s diverse migrations all seem to follow the classic outline of age-old literature and mythology. A hero embarks on a great journey, and soon encounters unexpected adventures and mishaps along the way. Obstacles are overcome, and our hero reaches the journey’s end — somehow older, wiser, and at least for now, fulfilled.

The fall season seems like a particularly apt time to mark and celebrate the ancient migratory routes of countless species on earth. The urge always seems greatest as the seasons change. Pictured above are two of the Land Library’s favorite new books on animal migration. National Geographic’s Great Migrations provides a wonderful visual tour of the intrepid travelers of land, sea, and air. Ben Hoare’s Animal Migration: Remarkable Journeys in the Wild traces the routes of more than fifty species across the globe, highlighting many migratory hot spots that are under threat from human activities. Both volumes make you want to learn more — if only to stay out of the way of ancient routes beyond our understanding.

From The Grapes of Wrath to the migratory patterns of caribou, salmon and wildebeest, the phenomenon is all the same — an instinctual move toward a better world. Here’s a few more Land Library volumes that recognizes the hero’s journey, no matter what species you are:

safinafireflybeing caribou
Sea, Air & Land: Voyage of the Turtle by Carl Safina (tracking the migration of the leatherback, loggerhead, and green turtles), The Migration of Birds: Seasons on the Wing by Janice Hughes (a perfect place to begin for all avian-in-flux), and Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd by Karsten Heuer (an account by a Canadian wildlife biologist, who followed a caribou herd from their wintering home to their calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).

The classic story line of migration has not been lost on the authors and illustrators of children’s books. Here’s just a few of our favorites from our Waterton Canyon Kids Nature Library:

walk the earthperegrine
They Walk the Earth: The Extraordinary Travels of Animals on Land by Seymour Simon, and The Peregrine’s Journey: A Story of Migration by Madeleine Dunphy

going homeserengetti
Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration by Marianne Berkes, and The Serengeti Migration: Africa’s Animals on the Move by Lisa Lindblad

For more on the migratory inclinations of all of us on earth, please visit a couple of our previous posts!

Neglected Histories, Moral Uncertainty, & the Harvesting of the West (migrant workers & the Great Depression)

Pronghorn Passage (with a terrific film clip of the challenges pronghorn face along their ancient Wyoming migratory route)


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