If You Think You Have a Long Flight This Holiday Season, Think Again: 1 Bird Had a Mind-Boggling Nonstop Migration


Imagine, if you will, being able to fly nonstop across the Pacific Ocean from cold Alaska to warm and sunny Tasmania, Australia.

Since the summer Down Under runs from December through March, it’s the perfect place to escape the Northern Hemisphere winter, with high temperatures in Tasmania usually ranging from 62 to 73 degrees.

Now imagine no airport lines, no luggage fees, no Transportation Security Administration, no layovers. And it’s free!

Well, that is, if you happen to be a bird.

A Tasmanian summer was apparently the logic of a bird known as a bar-tailed godwit.

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But this isn’t just any bird of its kind. This young bar-tailed godwit flew its way right into the Guinness World Records in October with the longest nonstop migration by a bird —  8,425 miles!

Another bird of the same kind of feathers had held the record at 7,580 miles, flying from Alaska to New Zealand without stopping for food or rest, according to The Associated Press. But the two didn’t flock together.

That bird made its long trek in 2020.

As for the more ambitious bar-tailed godwit with the exotic preference for Australia, it did have a slight advantage in that it was a younger bird.

In fact, the 5-month-old hatchling — known only as “234684” — was so young that the researchers studying its migratory trek were unsure whether it was male or female when they tagged it, according to the AP.

They were able to keep track of the bird over such a long distance because it had a GPS tracking chip connected to a satellite.

Its course began as a southwesterly one toward Japan on Oct. 13, according to Guinness. The godwit then turned southeast and flew over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

After that, the bird tracked southwest again as it headed for Kiribati and New Caledonia.

Upon passing the mainland of Australia, it headed west for Tasmania, which is Australia’s southernmost state.

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It landed at Ansons Bay on Oct. 24 after a marathon trip of 11 days and one hour.

Bar-tailed godwits have a very aerodynamic build, which has been compared to that of a jet fighter. They have been clocked as fast as 55 miles per hour, according to The Guardian.

They usually journey together in flocks.

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