Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky” accidents.1 Why? Because the challenging mix of birds’ metabolic needs for long-distance travel, synchronized to seasonal and diurnal weather conditions, are exacerbated by unyielding entropy. This all-or-nothing complexity prohibits “lucky” bird migrations. In short, to seasonally migrate, birds need the Lord Jesus Christ’s providential bioengineering care.2,3
Flight failures are tragic when malfunctioning airplanes or spacecraft fall out of the sky.3 Likewise, if bird traits malfunctioned while trying to evolve migratory flight features, there would be no second chances.1 So, either birds are aptly fitted by their Creator with migration traits or they can’t migrate.4,5
Consider the air speeds that birds need to maintain over long distances before their flying fuel (i.e., metabolic assets dedicated to long-distance flight needs) is depleted.
The birds’ flight speed in relation to the air varies in general between approximately 30 km per hour, for the smallest birds, and 80 km per hour, for larger birds.…When the bird’s mass increases 100 times, then 200 times as much flight power is required.4
Yet, powering heavier-than-air flight requires adequate bird muscle strength and endurance.
The muscle power cannot, however, increase much more than the weight. Provided that the proportions are the same, the wing area is only 20 times as great in a bird that weighs 100 times more than another. The limited muscle power and wing area of heavy birds, in combination with the very high flight power that is required [for long-distance migrations], sets a size limit above which flying is no longer possible. This limit is estimated to be around 15 kg. This corresponds well with the weight of the largest animals in the world that can actively fly—swans, bustards, albatrosses and condors.4
Thus, interplay between flight speed and muscle power balances the complicated physics required for non-fixed-wing flying against long-distance migration.2-5
Moreover, the unforgiving biochemistry and physiology of each migratory bird’s metabolism (food acquisition, fuel utilization, respiration, etc.) must aptly fit the ongoing needs of seasonal migrations or else avian biochemical logistics fail.4,5 Thankfully, for all migratory birds—and all birdwatchers—the phenological phenomena of bird migrations is not dependent upon “luck,” as imagined by evolutionists.3,5 Rather, none less than the Lord Jesus Christ deserves all credit and acclaim for these winged wonders of biogeographic beauty.
“But now ask…the birds of the air, and they will tell [literally “explain to,” or “clarify to”] you…that the hand of the LORD has done this, in Whose hand is the life of every living thing.” (Job 12:7-10)
- “Thus, eons of time guarantee that the simian keypunchers can never type out Hamlet—the imagined luck is ‘not to be.’ Time plus entropy prevents the spontaneous generation of life and any hope of evolution.” Johnson, J. J. S. 2018. Infinite Time Won’t Rescue Evolution. Acts & Facts. 47 (6): 21. Complex bird anatomies cannot spontaneously self-assemble, apart from Christ’s bioengineering providence, because ubiquitous entropy (i.e., the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) absolutely prevents any mix of biochemicals from magically combining into purpose-working “all-or-nothing-unity” systems, regardless of how much time is allowed, because infinite time guarantees that (our fallen universe’s) entropy bars any such luck.
- Egevang, C. et al. 2010. Tracking of Arctic terns Sterna paradisaea reveals longest animal migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (5): 2078-2081, quoted in Johnson, J. J. S. 2010. Survival of the Fittest: God’s Providential Programming. Acts & Facts. 39 (10): 17-18. See also, regarding phenological migrations, Johnson, J. J. S. 2013. God Fitted Habitats for Biodiversity. Acts & Facts. 42 (3): 10-12.
- Guliuzza, R. J. 2011. Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion That Natural Selection Operates on Organisms. Acts & Facts. 40 (9): 12-15; Guliuzza, R. J. 2017. Engineered Adaptability: Engineering Causality Studies Unmask Evolutionary Externalism. Acts & Facts. 46 (11): 17-19. See also Sherwin, F. A ‘One-Hundred-Million-Year-Old Bird’ Is Still a Bird. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org June 20, 2006, accessed October 1, 2021.
- “The rule of thumb is that the speed roughly doubles when the mass of the bird increases 100 times. If a 10-g Willow Warbler flies at 30 km per hour, then a Raven of 1 kg [1,000 grams] flies, in round figures, at 60 km per hour. …The capacity of the flight muscles sets a ‘ceiling’ to how much flight power a bird can cope with—a lower ceiling for continuous power outtake and a somewhat higher ceiling for temporary all-out bursts. After this sort of brief ‘muscle spurt’ the muscles have to wind down while the lactic acid which is formed in the muscle tissue when energy is produced without sufficient oxygen supply is carried away.” Alerstam, T. 1993. Bird Migration. New York: Cambridge University Press, 252.
- Johnson, J. J. S. 2016. High-Altitude Flying Is for the Birds. Acts & Facts. 45 (3): 20-21.
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.