A conservation group has traced a migration over the centuries in which a male worshiper flew from Alaska to New Zealand without taking a single break.
As a Guardian reports, the prickly peony left for southwestern Alaska on September 16 and arrived 11 days later in a bay near Auckland, New Zealand. The bird marked 4BBRW (for the blue, blue, red and white identification rings attached to its legs) was followed by Global Flyway Network, a conservation group that studies migratory coastal birds over long distances.
Years with a tail (Limosa lapponica) are exceptional birds, with incredibly long migration routes. Wetlands spend their summers in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere (where they breed) and then fly south for the winter, in some cases as far as Australia and New Zealand. Dog thorns are fast and light, with a wingspan of about 28 to 31 inches (70 to 80 cm).
Peony-tailed peonies that want to move from Alaska to New Zealand must make an epic flight over the Pacific Ocean. For 4BBRW, this led to a record continuous flight in which the bird flew 12,954 miles (12,854 km), reports the Guardian. The bird is equipped with a 5gm satellite label that allows GPS tracking. Scientists say the total length of the trip is probably closer to 12,200 km (7,581 miles) after reporting rounding errors.
The previous direct flight record belongs to a female mantis who flew 11,580 km during a similar trip in 2007.Sterna paradisaea) travel more than 50,000 miles (80,000 km) each year, so they deserve to be mentioned as the longest migration routes of any bird (or any animal for that matter), even though they make many stops along the way.
4BBRW left Alaska after a two-month stay in which he feasted on mussels and worms, reports the Guardian. This bird would have reached New Zealand sooner, except for strong winds that pushed it to Australia. The bird, which reached a top speed of about 55 miles per hour (89 km / h), probably did not sleep during its 11-day journey, as Jesse Conklin, a researcher with the Global Flyway Network, told The Guardian.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure how these birds are able to travel without eating or sleeping, but they have some ideas, such as Lund University in 2011. press release described:
One explanation is that they consume unusually little energy compared to other bird species. Anders Hedenström [an ecologist at Lund University] has estimated that the tailed coot consumes 0.41% of its body weight every hour during its long flight.
“This figure is extremely low compared to other migratory birds,” he said.
However, other factors also play a role. It is important to have the right balance between body weight and size so that you can carry enough energy for the entire flight. Energy consists mainly of body fat and to some extent also protein. It is also important to have an aerodynamic body shape so that air resistance is minimized. An additional success factor is the speed of the flight. The year with a tail is a fast flyer, which means it can travel long distances in a reasonable amount of time.
As for navigation, Conklin told the Guardian that the gods with tails could use landmarks in the form of islands to direct them to their destinations. Birds can also have internal compasses that sense the Earth’s magnetic field.
Unfortunately, the gods with a tail are listed from IUCN as an almost endangered species as their population declines. Birds face a shortage of threats, from housing and commercial development to aquaculture, oil and gas drilling and pollution.