We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Why do Some Animals Migrate?

By S. Mithra
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Animals migrate to reproduce, eat, or seek warmer climates. Those that migrate travel long distances in groups from one part of the world to another, past oceans, over plains, or through the sky on a decided route. Some species must travel thousands of miles every year, while others make the trip just once in their lifetime.

Warmer weather often means a larger or better food source. Animals, like geese, who spend spring and summer in the cool northern hemisphere, move south for the winter on a seasonal schedule. They follow the same path from year to year, often stopping at the same landmarks. Herbivorous mammals, like African antelope, follow green grass depending on precipitation and drought. Their yearly travel patterns might not be along the same path, depending on the weather and their feeding. Those wanderers, called "nomadic migrators," include the behavior of massive plagues like locusts. Generally, though, animals travel closer to the warmer equatorial zone and away from the poles during winter.

Another cycle that triggers migration is mating, gestation, birth, and raising young. Some animals, like Pacific trout, make one long migration over the course of their lives. From small streams, they travel to open waters to mature, then return to their birthplace when they are ready to spawn. The ideal location for an animal's reproduction might have a special food source, less predators, or a geographical feature necessary for new life. Tortoises must have soft, sandy beaches to bury their leathery eggs. Frogs need low, leafy branches to overhang ponds not in danger of drying up too soon.

Migration takes an enormous amount of energy. Leading up to the long trip, animals build up fat for stored energy, or pare down weight for easier movement. Hormonal chemicals trigger these changes. In animals equipped to navigate long distances, the position of the sun and stars in the sky, water currents, temperature, wind conditions, and their "biological clock" help them reach the appropriate destination.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon129434 — On Nov 23, 2010

Where can I find info on tectonic plate movement and migration patterns? Isn't one theory of migration patterns for some animals the movement of tectonic plate?

By StormyKnight — On Jul 17, 2010

@momothree: Probably the most common North American migrator is the bird. There are over 100 species of birds that completely leave the U.S. every winter and migrate in the West Indies or Latin America.

Bird migration is a very fascinating thing to watch.

By GardenTurtle — On Jul 17, 2010

@momothree: I think that one of the most fascinating migrators is the monarch butterfly. Every fall, these butterflies migrate to warmer climates. In temperatures below 55 degrees, it is impossible for them to fly so they must migrate.

Almost 100 million monarch butterflies migrate to either California or Mexico every year.

By momothree — On Jul 17, 2010

What North American animals migrate?

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.