Bird sets record with 7,257 mile marathon
A Bar-Tailed Godwit has broken the record for the world's longest known non-stop bird flight. Named only 'E7' she flew 7,257 continuous miles across the Pacific Ocean, which broke the previous record set by a Far-Eastern Curlew, who flew 4,038 nonstop miles. Apparently she didn't even glide.
"Bar-tailed godwits use forward flapping flight and seldom ever glide," lead author Robert Gill, Jr., told Discovery News.
Gill, project leader of the shorebird research program at the U.S. Geological Survey, explained that climbing midair while gliding is costly in terms of energy for birds, so continuous wing-flapping surprisingly saves on "fuel."
He and his team tracked multiple bar-tailed godwits as they flew from their summer breeding grounds in the western Alaska tundra to New Zealand, where they spend the rest of the year. Females were surgically implanted with transmitters, while males, which in this species are smaller and lighter, were affixed with external transmitters.
The migrating birds' flights lasted between five and 9.4 days.
This strange occurance could be interpreted as the fact that mountain ranges, deserts, ice fields and other natural open spaces may not be a hinderance to migration. They might actually provide 'hassle-free' travel routes.
Before starting her journey, 'E7' will have gorged herself on food like tiny clams, however, a flight like this is still incredibly tiring for the bird. It would be equivalent to running for a year.
However, the godwit is in danger as numbers are dropping due to habitat loss. It is not yet known what role climate change plays in their survival.