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Record-Breaking Bird Flew Nonstop From Alaska to New Zealand

A bar-tailed godwit in Australia.

A bar-tailed godwit in Australia.
Picture: JJ Harrison/Wikimedia

A conservation group has tracked a migration for the ages, during which a male bar-tailed godwit flew from Alaska to New Zealand with out taking a single break.

Because the Guardian reports, the bar-tailed godwit departed southwestern Alaska on September 16 and arrived 11 days later at a bay close to Auckland, New Zealand. The hen, designated 4BBRW (for the blue, blue, crimson, and white identification rings connected to its legs), was tracked by Global Flyway Network, a conservation group that research long-distance migrating shorebirds.

Bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) are distinctive birds, that includes some mind-bogglingly lengthy migratory routes. The wading birds spend their summers within the arctic areas of the Northern Hemisphere (the place they breed) after which fly south for the winter, in some circumstances so far as Australia and New Zealand. Bar-tailed godwits are quick and light-weight, with wingspans round 28 to 31 inches (70 to 80 cm) lengthy.

Bar-tailed godwits trying to relocate from Alaska to New Zealand should make an epic flight over the Pacific Ocean. For 4BBRW, this resulted in a record-breaking nonstop flight, during which the hen flew 7,987 miles (12,854 km), studies the Guardian. The hen was outfitted with a 5gm satellite tv for pc tag, which allowed for GPS monitoring. The scientists mentioned the whole size of the journey might be nearer to 7,581 miles (12,200 km) after accounting for rounding errors.

The earlier nonstop flight record belongs to a feminine bar-tailed godwit, who flew 7,257 miles (11,680 km) throughout the same journey in 2007. Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) travel greater than 50,000 miles (80,000 km) every year, so that they deserve point out as having the longest migratory routes of any hen (or any animal for that matter), although they make a lot of stops alongside the best way.

4BBRW departed Alaska following a two-month stint during which it feasted on clams and worms, the Guardian studies. This hen would’ve reached New Zealand sooner save for sturdy winds that pushed him towards Australia. The hen, who attained a most pace of round 55 miles per hour (89 km/hr), in all probability didn’t sleep throughout its 11-day journey, as Jesse Conklin, a researcher with the International Flyway Community, instructed The Guardian.

Scientists aren’t fully certain how these birds are able to making their journeys with out consuming or sleeping, however they’ve obtained some concepts, as a 2011 Lund College press release described:

One clarification is that they devour unusually little power in contrast with different species of hen. Anders Hedenström [an ecologist at Lund University] has calculated that the bar-tailed godwit consumes 0.41 % of its physique weight every hour throughout its lengthy flight.

“This determine is extraordinarily low in contrast with different migratory birds,” he says.

Nevertheless, different elements additionally play a task. You will need to have the best ratio of physique weight to measurement to have the ability to carry enough power for your entire flight. The power primarily includes physique fats, and to some extent additionally protein. It’s also essential to have an aerodynamic physique form in order that air resistance is minimised. An additional success issue is flight pace. The bar-tailed godwit is a fast flyer, which implies that it could actually cowl lengthy distances in an inexpensive time.

When it comes to navigation, Conklin instructed the Guardian that bar-tailed godwits is likely to be utilizing landmarks within the type of islands to information them to their locations. The birds may have inner compasses that sense Earth’s magnetic area.

Sadly, bar-tailed godwits are listed by the IUCN as a Close to Threatened species, as their inhabitants is on the decline. The birds face no scarcity of threats, from residential and business growth via to aquaculture, oil and fuel drilling, and air pollution.

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George Dvorsky