About the Author

Kyle Gordon

Contributor

Kyle was born and raised in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. His childhood was spent scurrying barefooted along the banks of various rivers and dams, fishing rod ever-in-hand, enjoying the beauty and freedom of outdoors. Kyle obtained a degree in construction from UCT ...

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13 Comments

on Challenging  The Definition Of ‘Instinct’

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Francesca Doria
Digital Tracker

What a gift today! The stork that left from here where i live migrate to Londolozi… and we had gerbils as pets! Rodents are a very favourite topic in my family environment. Lovely little creatures. Beautiful article well written

Christa Blessing
Master Tracker

Thanks for the interesting article.
Lots of “our” white European storks do not travel all the way down to Southern Africa any more, it seems. They have realized that it is easier to stay in Spain during the winter. There is obviously enough food for them there and the climate has become warmer.
It is indeed very interesting how animal behaviors changes with changing conditions to which they adapt.
Lovely pictures

Irene Henkes
Senior Digital Ranger

Thanks Kyle, I love thoughts like this. Our storks migrate partly. Apparently a lot of the handraised storks here, do not go all the way (stay in Spain etc.) or do not go at all. Also, it seems as if the storks that do go, go earlier than they used to. Which is strange, because they leave here end of August, beginning of September, while there still is enough to eat. And I suppose most frogs at your end of the world are still quite sleepy then. So I wonder……… are those early flyers also handraised, but possibly from farther away, where it is colder? Or are they Dutch? Or?

David Hallett
Explorer

Kyle. I was recently in Estepona, in Southern Spain near Gilbralter and witnessed the magnificent sight of around 200 white stalks flying south . So dont worry, they’re on their way !!!!!

I think there is a zero missing in the amount of km that the white storks travel. 2.000 km would only bring them from northern Europe to southern Europe, so I think it must be an even more whopping 20.000 km. Otherwise a great article.

Bob and Lucie Fjeldstad
Guest contributor

Fascinating dissertation and lofty cogitating Doctor Gordon! I imagine the Professor helped you?!!!

Leonie De Young
Digital Tracker

A nice and thought provoking blog Kyle. I have often wondered how birds know when to migrate. Some birds, like yours, travel many miles to their winter/summer homes. From what I understand, they seem to migrate in a certain pattern all the time. Mother Nature is truly fascinating. Thanks for sharing with us – really enjoyed it.

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Fascinating and thought provoking essay this morning Kyle. Your cognitive state of mind , brought about by thinking of the white storks’ migration and what triggers their flight south, pushed me back into my own journey of finding answers to whether creatures follow instinctual or learned behaviors. I enjoy reading articles/blogs like this as it keeps the brain cells active! So do migratory birds follow their instincts, or is it learned from other birds?!

Patrick Smyth
Explorer

If you want to find out some mind-blowing instincts that humans possess, try reading The Master Book of Meme Law. It will describe how and why we get ourselves into scraps, from families to nations. It is a major education in group dynamics and how the individual contributes to social dynamics.
This is not a book about computer memes. It is a book about the original word meme, which was created by Howard Bloom and Richard Dawkins, both eminent social scientists. Challenge yourselves. http://www.memelaw.com

Valmai Vorster
Digital Tracker

Hi Kyle, thanks for the good blog on the white stork, very interesting and I have the utmost respect for all our migrate birds. It is just fantastic how far these birds fly to get better food and to breed. My lesser stripped swallows are back and they have been with us for 9 years.

Cally Staniland
Digital Tracker

What an incredible coincidence Kyle that you should write a blog about instinct being particularly aimed at the migration of birds. Just this morning I was pondering the same thoughts as we live on the small island of Malta which is slap bang in the middle of a migration path for many birds heading north and south. Unfortunately a lot of these beautiful birds loose their lives to Maltese hunters (mainly to be stuffed and sold at a huge price to trophy collectors). I was pondering whether there might not only be some instinct as to when and which route to take but also that perhaps most of their habits were learnt from their flock. If this were the case, I was ever hopeful that with some luck they might alter their course instinctively to avoid a stop over in Malta had they witnessed the demise of part of the flock in the previous years. If anyone out there can confirm that this can occur it would certainly make my day, knowing that some of these magnificent birds we see migrating will make it to their summer/winter homes in one piece. 🙏🏻

Marcia Parker
Senior Digital Ranger

Love this post! Certainly got me thinking. With one of my dogs (small Pomeranians whose breed ancestors were spitz hunting/herding dogs) I have often wondered about some of her behaviors. Like the fact that if she wants me to get something like the ball or the package at the door she will “herd” me!😂.

Paul Buchanan
Explorer

Very interesting discussion. I noticed that you grew up in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I had the pleasure of visiting there Christmas 1997 or 1998 on a birdwatching expedition. We stayed at Aberfoyle Lodge and Chimanimani. Also visited Leopard Rock and the Great Zimbabwe. The high point of the trip was staying at a guest house run by an elderly English expat lady and being able to see a Swynnerton’s robin nesting. Very beautiful country!

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