Good godwit! Bird flies 8,425 miles NON-STOP from Alaska to Australia – setting a new world record
- Five-month old bird had been tagged before it set off from Alaska on October 13
- The juvenile landed in Ansons Bay, northeast Tasmania, Australia on October 24
- It flew at least 8,425 miles (13,560km) in 11 days and one hour without stopping
Published: 05:14 EDT, 27 October 2022 | Updated: 11:33 EDT, 27 October 2022
A young bird has become a world record holder by flying 8,425 miles non-stop from Alaska to Australia in 11 days.
The five-month-old bar-tailed godwit left Alaska on October 13 and touched down in Ansons Bay in northeast Tasmania, Australia on October 24.
Scientists say the bird, known simply as 234684, flew a minimum of 8,425 miles (13,560km) in 11 days and one hour without stopping.
It’s one of many birds that scientists in Alaska had attached a 5G satellite tag to in order to track migration patterns.
The five-month-old bar-tailed godwit left Alaska on October 13 and touched down in northeast Tasmania, Australia on October 24
The bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) is one of four living species in the godwits or Limosa genus. It has distinctive brick-red breeding plumage, long legs, and a long upturned bill (file photo)
THE BAR-TAILED GODWIT
The bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) is a long-billed, long-legged wading bird.
During spring and summer, adult bar-tailed godwits have dark brown and grey backs and brick-red heads, necks and underparts. In winter, they are streaky-grey above and white below.
Its migration across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Oceania is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird.
The bird feeds on shellfish, marine snails and worms and shrimps by probing its long bill into the mud.
‘This godwit with the great number 234684 departed from Alaska on 13 October and certainly looks to have flown non-stop to Tasmania,’ the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre announced on its Facebook page.
‘This will not be the first one to make this flight as godwits are frequent summer visitors to Tasmania and we are sure this one was with a group but it is the first time a tagged bird has flown between Alaska and Tasmania.’
A local birdwatcher is now heading to Ansons Bay to look for it, although heavy rain in the area may make travelling to the site difficult.
The godwit’s route took it over islands in Oceania, including Vanuatu and New Caledonia, but it resisted the chance to stop off and refuel, instead continuing straight to Tasmania.
In doing so, it beat the previous long distance record of 8,108 miles (13,050km), set by an adult male bar-tailed godwit known as 4BBRW in 2021.
This previous record-holder has been ‘blown out of the water by this young upstart’, the post said.
Eric Woehler, an expert at Birdlife Tasmania, said the bird probably lost ‘half or more of its body weight’ during continuous day and night flight.
The flight was particularly risky because the species is unable to land on water.
‘If a godwit lands on water, it’s dead,’ Woehler told the ABC. ‘It doesn’t have the webbing in its feet, it has no way of getting off the water.