Migratory Restlessness

Of course the Germans have a word for it: Zugunruhe. Migratory restlessness is best known in birds, but other animals have it as well. In spring and fall, these animals feel the need to get a move on. Hormones trigger it.

Here’s Melville making an analogy in Pierre, or, The Ambiguities, published in 1852:

“So the sweet linnet, though born inside of wires in a lady’s chamber on the ocean coast, and ignorant all its life of any other spot, yet, when spring-time comes, it is seized with flutterings and vague impatiences; it can not eat or drink for these wild longings. Though unlearned of any experience, still the inspired linnet divinely knows that the inland migratory time has come.”

Migration complicates the notion of species, including out own. (Paywall.)

1 Response to “Migratory Restlessness”


  1. 1 Paul Lamb December 16, 2019 at 5:29 am

    “vague impatiences” – ah, Melville!


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