(ORDO NEWS) — The Bartail Godwit is not a prominent bird, but this year the young bird set a world record for non-stop flight. In just 11 days, she covered 13,560 kilometers, beating the previous record by almost a thousand kilometers.
The Little Godwit ( Limosa lapponica ) is an unremarkable bird: the size of a dove, with a long beak and legs, plumage is rusty brown.
Every summer, hundreds of these birds breed in the southwest of Alaska, in the Yukon-Kuskokuim delta , after which the grown chicks make their first migration across the entire Pacific Ocean to the Australian shores.
This summer, researchers tagged one of the chicks with a GPS chip and a tiny solar panel to track its first fall flight, even though they had no idea how wonderful it would be.
The five-month-old godwit left his native land and went to winter quarters on October 13 of this year.
The route was not easy: the bird first flew west towards Japan, but turned southeast over the Aleutian Islands and crossed the Pacific Ocean, passing Kiribati and the Australian mainland, reaching Tasmania on 24 October. The satellite trace showed that the godwit flew 13,560 kilometers non-stop.
Unfortunately, no other chick in the same brood was tagged, and scientists cannot say whether the record holder chick strayed from relatives or flew with brothers and sisters (young godwit travel separately from parents flying away for wintering earlier).
By the way, the bar-tailed godwit also set the previous record in 2020: a male of this species flew 12,200 kilometers from Alaska to New Zealand, never stopping to eat or rest.
According to the information resource Phys.org, now the record-breaking chick is fattening in the swampy Tasmanian lowlands, restoring health after a difficult flight: during the trip, the godwit loses up to half of its own weight.
Perhaps next summer, researchers will be able to tag more chicks in order to finally answer the question: are such “extreme” flights for bartail godwits unique or is this a common migration route of the species?
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