The first ever bird to take off from the shores of Lake Superior and land on the shores was a cedar-winged crow, KATHERINE LUMBERT, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The crow landed on the shore of Lake Michigan in November 1864, after a two-month journey from the US mainland.
The crow’s journey was recorded in the journal Journal of Archaeological Science.
The bird landed on Lake Superior near a site where there is evidence of human occupation, says the University Press.
It was the first known bird to land on a shore.
Lumbert and her team have been studying the birds in a lab at the U-M Research Laboratory since the 1970s.
“It’s the earliest bird to reach the shore,” she says.
The bird is known as a lake crowsnake, or calico crows.
“They’re a subspecies of the calico crow that’s been around for some time,” she explains.
“They’re smaller and their plumage is a little bit more uniform, but they have a very distinctive black and white pattern on their backs and feet.”
Lumbers study began in the 1970’s when she and her colleagues started to document the birds’ flight history.
“We thought, if they can land, why can’t we land them?” she says, adding that the bird had to fly over lakes that are not necessarily very navigable.
“It was very interesting to see how the birds landed on lakes that were very, very difficult to fly around on, and that’s really why we started working on it,” she adds.
The first known crows to land at Lake Superior, and to fly on the same day, was a species of black-and-white cuckoo called the white-cuckoo.
This species landed on an island, which is the only place the bird has ever been seen before.
“The white-Cuckoo landed on a island and we had to get it back to land, so it was a very interesting challenge,” Lumbert says.
“That was probably the first bird we’ve ever landed on land.”