The bar-tailed godwit, a migratory bird, has set the record for the longest known nonstop bird flight, reports Discovery on research by the U.S. Geological Survey. Scientists tracked a female named E7 as it flew nonstop for 7,257 miles (11,679 km) from western Alaska to New Zealand, nearly double the previous bird-flight record—a still-astonishing 4,038 miles (6,499 km).
Bar-tailed godwits use forward flapping for flight and “seldom” glide.
What’s more, the bird probably didn’t even glide. Bar-tailed godwits use forward flapping for flight and “seldom” glide, according to Robert Gill, Jr., lead author of the study.
E7 was just one of several godwits tracked by transmitter as they made the long migration, a journey lasting between 5 and 10 days. Before the godwits set out on their long flight, they “tank up” on fuel—food such as tiny clams, in their case. The godwits also take advantage of tailwinds as much as possible, of course.
According to Rob Schuckard of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, the human feat equivalent to the godwit’s journey would be sprinting at 43.5 miles per hour (70 km/h) for a week straight without resting. Any volunteers?
The study authors, writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, conclude that oceans, mountains, deserts, and other geographic barriers may not be the impasses they were once considered for migrating animals.
As for the humble godwit, its incredible journey and endurance is a fantastic testimony to the Creator’s design in the animal kingdom.
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