Thursday 11 November 2021

8,108 miles is the current record for longest non-stop bird flight

The flight was made by a female bar-tailed godwit. The same female bird had set a previous record at 7,500 continuous miles, 13 years ago. That record was beaten by another female bar-tailed godwit by about 125 miles in a non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand on September 26.

The bar-tailed godwit is said to have the aerodynamics of a jet fighter with long their pointed wings and sleek body shape. It flew the more than 8,000 miles from Alaska to Australia and in doing so set a world record for continuous avian flight.

Bar-tailed godwit
Bar-tailed godwit. Credit: see photo.

In this last world record non-stop bird flight the bar-tailed godwit left south-west Alaska for its summer grounds in New Zealand on September 17. It hit strong winds over the Pacific, south of Fiji which forced a large detour west to Australia. The bird was carrying a very small solar-powered satellite tracking device. It landed at Tweed Heads, 500 miles south of Sydney at around 9:30 AM on September 27. The bird was tagged with the identifier: 4BBRW.

The flight of 8108 miles had taken 239 hours; in all 10 days in the air flying. It has since flown another 1,200 miles to New Zealand.

ASSOCIATED: Sexism in birding: pictures of male birds more prominent than those of female birds

And Australian bird photographer, Jeff White, noticed the satellite transmitter on the bird about five hours after it had landed in an estuary near the border of Queensland and New South Wales. It took a series of pictures and only later did he realise the importance of the bird to bird watchers when he saw the tag.

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