BirdLife: The Magazine September 2017 - Page 40

GOING SOUTH LITTLE BUT TOUGH Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe | Distance travelled 30,000 km 2 Wheatears take different routes depending on where they breed. While those that breed in north-eastern Canada travel across the Atlantic, those in Alaska trek through Russia. Despite weighing as little as two spoons of sugar, this courageous bird travels through stormy open oceans, withstands the subarctic climate of Siberia and survives the Arabian Desert. Their record-breaking 30,000 km (18,641 mi) round trip is the longest known migration for a songbird. Researchers have found that the longest migration pound-for-pound would be that of the Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata; however, this wheatear still gets a special mention for withstanding the elements at such a small size. This species has a large range and while their populations are slowly decreasing, they are classified as Least Concern. Photo Martin Pelanek/Shutterstock NO REST FOR THE WEARY Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica | Distance travelled 11,000 km Imagine going on a nine day flight with no time to sleep and nothing to eat or drink. This is the way of the Bar-tailed Godwit; from Alaska to New Zealand, it holds the record for the largest non-stop flight of any bird, flying for over 11,000 km (6,835 mi) without rest. Although the species has an extremely large range, some of its subpopulations are strug- gling. Godwits taking the East Asian-Australasian route are undergoing rapid declines due to severe habitat loss in the Yellow Sea and as a result the species is classified as Near Threat- ened. Luckily, BirdLife is working with governments to protect stopover sites and prevent further habitat degradation. Even if they don’t seem to have endurance problems, we should give them a chance to refuel! 3 Photo Dennis Jacobsen/Shutterstock ROUND AND ROUND Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris | Distance travelled 30,000 km £329 2 Also known as the Tasmanian Muttonbird, this globetrotter migrates every year from its breeding grounds in Tasmania and southern Australia to Kamchatka in the Russian Far East, to then continue on to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, then circle around the Pacific Ocean and travel back along the western coast of North America. Their bodies are perfectly adapted for gliding above the water, allowing them to fly for extended periods of time while saving energy. Surprisingly, even after travelling such impressive distances, they return to the same burrow every year. Population declines have been reported in some areas but their total numbers are still estimated at over 20 million, making this the most abundant seabird species to be found in Australian waters. from £219.95 Photo Chris Watson/Shutterstock OUR WORK from TO THE MOON AND BACK Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea | Average roundtrip distance 90,000 km £199.95 £74.99 No bird migration list is ever complete without mentioning the record-breaking feats of the Arctic Tern. By far the longest migration known in the animal kingdom, this medium-sized bird travels 90,000 km (55,923 mi) from pole to pole every year — from Greenland in the North to the Weddell Sea in the South. Remarkably, Arctic Terns can live up to 30 years, which means if one adds up the distance they traverse in a lifetime, their total journey is equivalent to going to the moon and back more than three times. Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the species has an extremely large range, with an estimated two million individuals. It’s no wonder this world traveller’s epic journey inspired BirdLife’s logo, exemplifying the global impact and reach of our projects. 3 Photo Tony Brindley/Shutterstock SEPTEMBER 2017 • BIRDLIFE 41