water birds

Flights of Birds


A very vast and astonishing world of birds is found in the universe. When we try to explore this world our minds push us towards a zone full of mystery.

Discoveries and inventions have made human lives easy and comfortable. Men have stopped walking long distances. But his does not relate to flying of birds. They continue flying and flying for ages very high and up to amazingly long distances.

During their migration birds fly away from one place to the other every year. Now, the time of their migration has started and birds are prepared to fly high and up to long distances. Many of the bird species so far have reached to their destinations, many are on way, and many have just started.

The distance travelled by some birds each year fills us with wonder and amazement. Some reports reveal that some birds fly up to thousands of kilometers during their migration.

Some birds remain on journey throughout the year.

Arctic tern

It is one long flight bird. This bird travels up to 96000 km every year. This is the greatest distance that an animal can travel.

During the thirty years of its life spawn this bird travels as long as a distance equal to three times the distance of the moon from the earth.

The Arctic tern is scientifically known as Sterna paradisaea. It belongs to family Laridae.

This bird has circumpolar breeding distribution which covers Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.

The species is strongly migratory, seeing two summers each year as it migrates along a convoluted route from its northern breeding grounds to the Antarctic coast for the southern summer and back again about six months later.

Sooty Shearwater

Many other birds like the Arctic tern like long distance flights. Sooty Shearwater is another such bird. This bird completes a journey of 64000km in a year. It does not fly in a flock. Rather, it likes to fly alone.

Sooty shearwaters are the common dark seabird of coastal New Zealand, south of Banks Peninsula.

They may occur in spectacular flocks of tens of thousands, particularly around the southern South Island and Stewart Island, when they congregate on bait balls of crustaceans and feed by flying into the water from a shallow angle.

The sooty shearwater is a large, dark shearwater with long, narrow wings, long slender bill and narrow short tail.

The upperparts are sooty brown whilst the underparts are slightly greyer with a silver-grey flash on the outer area of the underwings. The feet are dark grey, and barely project beyond the tail in flight.

The sooty shearwater is one of the most widely distributed seabirds in the world. In addition to breeding in New Zealand, it also breeds on islands off Australia, Chile and the Falklands.

During the breeding season (September-May) it occurs throughout coastal New Zealand waters, making trips of about 2000 km each way to forage in the vicinity of the Polar Front at about 65°S, especially when gathering food for its young.

After breeding, birds from New Zealand migrate to the North Pacific Ocean where each bird stops over in one of three discrete regions off Japan, Alaska or California before returning to New Zealand for the following breeding season. (New Zealand Birds Online)

Short Tailed Shearwater

The third place in the list of long distance flyers is Short Tailed Shearwater. It can travel up to 43000 km. Recent tagging experiments show that birds breeding in New Zealand can travel up to Japan, Alaska and California in a year.

The short-tailed shearwater or slender-billed shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris; formerly Puffinus tenuirostris), also called yolla or moonbird, and commonly known as the muttonbird in Australia, is the most abundant seabird species in Australian waters, and is one of the few Australian native birds in which the chicks are commercially harvested.

It is a migratory species that breeds mainly on small islands in Bass Strait and Tasmania and migrates to the Northern Hemisphere for the boreal summer.

There are about 4000 birds that migrate regularly. This number accounts for 40% of the population of birds.

Bar Tailed Godwit

The bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) is a large wader in the family Scolopacidae, which feeds on bristle-worms and shellfish on coastal mudflats and estuaries. It has distinctive red breeding plumage, long legs, and a long upturned bill.

Bar-tailed godwits breed on Arctic coasts and tundra from Scandinavia to Alaska, and overwinter on coasts in temperate and tropical regions of the Old World, Australia and New Zealand.

The migration of the subspecies Limosa lapponica baueri across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird, and also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal.

The round-trip migration for this subspecies is over 29,000 km (18,020 mi).

Name of the Bird Migration (Km)

Arctic tern 96000

Sooty Shearwater 64000

Short tailed Shearwater 43000

Northern Wheatere 30000

Pectoral Sandpiper 30000

Pied Wheatere 18000

The Northern Wheater, Pied wheater and the Pectoral Sandpiper are some other birds that migrate up to amazingly long distances.

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