The flight this year of a Bar-tailed Godwit has been documented as the longest of a bird on record, travelling 13,560 kilometres from Alaska to the island of Tasmania, in Australia.
That distance is 2,000 kilometres longer than the epic journey of another specimen of the same species, called E7, which in 2007 covered a journey of more than 11,500 kilometres from Alaska to New Zealand in 11 days.
The new non-stop record flight was also completed in just 11 days. In fact, according to the information recorded on the transmitter, it was carrying, this bird had ample opportunities to stop to feed and rest on various tropical islands while flying across the Pacific Ocean but chose to continue flapping.
Like most migratory shorebirds in Australia, Hummingbirds migrate annually between their Northern Hemisphere breeding grounds, which are generally in the Siberian or Alaskan tundra, to their non-breeding grounds in Australia and New Zealand.
Longest non-stop bird flight
A five-month-old bird has set a new world record for the longest non-stop bird flight. The bar-tailed godwit, also known as Limosa lapponica, travelled from Alaska to Tasmania nonstop over 11 days, a journey of 8,425 miles (13,560 km).
The snipe took off from Alaska on October 13, 2022, and reached Ansons Bay in Tasmania, just south of Melbourne, Australia, on October 24. Since the young bird was tagged, it allowed scientists to accurately track its flight.
Scientists were able to track the bird as it crossed several islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Vanuatu and New Caledonia. But he didn’t stop to rest in some cozy tropical place, en route to Australia. In fact, this is the first recorded flight between Alaska and Tasmania, a large Australian island south of Melbourne.
Bird broke its own
The same bird broke its own record by flying 13,000 kilometres (8,100 miles) on its next migration last year, the researchers say. But Guinness has yet to acknowledge that feat.
Pacific Ocean, Birdlife Tasmania convenor Eric Woehler said researchers didn’t know if the latest bird, known by its satellite tag 234684, was flying alone or as part of a flock. “There are so few birds that have been tagged that we don’t know how representative this event is,” Woehler said.
“It could be that half of the birds that migrate from Alaska arrive in Tasmania directly instead of through New Zealand or it could be 1%, or it could be that this is the first time it’s happened,” he added.
Adult birds leave Alaska before juveniles, so it’s unlikely the tagged bird followed more experienced travellers south, Woehler said.
Woehler hopes to see the bird once the wet weather clears in the remote corner of Tasmania, where it will put on weight having lost half its body weight on its journey.
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