Should I stay or should I go now?

Stick or twist? stay or go? whichever we decide, it pays to have a plan. Faced with the attraction of long summer days to bring up the family and the dangers of a long flight, it’s not surprising that some American crows choose to migrate north while others stay put.

A scientific study into the migratory behaviour of West coast and East coast American crows has revealed that the familiar 80:20 rule applies. Around 80% of crows on average travel up to 1000 km northwards and 20% stay put in the South. So why do some leave the familar stomping grounds of Sacramento for the forests of Oregon or the more bracing open spaces of Canada? According to the authors of the study published in The Auk journal, there appears to be a genetic similarity between those birds that migrate the greatest distances. This seems most likely to be a natural consequence of birds finding mates from their neighbours during the mating season and perpetuated when they and their children turn up like summer vacationers in following summers.

It’s not certain whether the crow populations on the West coast and East coast have always migrated in the same numbers or if they are in the process of becoming completely migratory. One thing is clear and that is that the migrating group are being more successful at reproducing than the stay-at-homes.

Is there anything this tale of corbeau holidaymaking has to teach us about innovation and change? Well I think there is. When some flight plans are so much more successful than others it’s time to stop doing the same old. It’s time to start doing the same new.

Holiday brochures are difficult to avoid at this time of year but you can find an open source copy of The Auk journal paper from the groups at Cornell University and Hamilton College here.