Other Birds - Sounds Wild
Bar-tailed godwit


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Bar-tailed godwit - long-distance migrant

A long-legged brown shorebird with a long, upcurved bill is probing the coastal mudflats on a New Zealand beach. It's a male bar-tailed godwit, and it's wearing a small tracking device. Another godwit in this flock - a female, also has a transmitter. Godwits are long-distance migrants that summer in the north and winter in the southern hemisphere. These birds were born on the northern tundra and tagged in Alaska before they migrated south.

In October 2021, the female flew from Alaska to New Zealand - a non-stop flight of eight-and-a-half days. It averaged 36 miles per hour, covering 7,600 miles without resting.

The male first left the mudflats near the Kuskokwim River on Sept. 11. It hit strong headwinds over the ocean about 1,200 miles into its journey, and turned back to Alaska rather than continue south.

Fifty-seven hours after it left Alaska, the godwit touched down again on the Kuskokwim River Delta. It spent 11 days gorging on clams and worms, preparing for a second migration attempt. Re-charged the godwit took off and again headed for New Zealand, landing 1,000 miles short in the islands of New Caledonia. It spent five weeks there resting and feeding, then flew nonstop to the North Island of New Zealand near Auckland, where it touched down Nov. 9, 2021.