As Columbus approached the New World he was sailing west, but the captain of the Pinta spotted birds flying southwest and convinced him to follow them. He arrived in the Bahamas.
Had he continued west he would have landed on the continent, probably in Florida, establishing a destiny for North America that was Spanish and Catholic rather than English and Protestant.
“Never had the flight of birds more important consequences,” wrote Alexander von Humboldt. “It may be said to have determined the first settlements on the new continent, and its distribution between the Latin and Germanic races.”