natural history blog

Natural history and parasitical feedings on the world's press

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bar-tailed godwits record fliers

From New Scientist
Bar-tailed godwit is king of the skies


The animal kingdom's record for the longest non-stop flight has been broken by a migratory wading bird, clocking up an epic 11,000 kilometres
THE animal kingdom's record for the longest non-stop flight has been broken by a migratory wading bird. The bar-tailed godwit clocks up an epic 11,000 kilometres in the air during its annual migration from Alaska to Australia or New Zealand.

Bar-tailed godwits break their northward migration at staging posts in Japan and around the Yellow Sea off China. En route they make unbroken flights of up to 8000 kilometres - the current record, which is shared by two other waders, the red knot and the great knot. But much less is known about the bar-tailed godwit's return journey.

Robert Gill from the US Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska, reckons that one subspecies (Limosa lapponica baueri) makes the trip without stopping. During the northern summer they build up fat reserves that make up as much as half their body mass.

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