The longest bird flight ever recorded

Did you know that the longest continuous flight by a bird lasted for ten months and covered over 70,000 km? This remarkable journey was undertaken by a bar-tailed godwit, a bird that breeds in Alaska and migrates to New Zealand each year. The godwit’s incredible feat has amazed scientists and bird enthusiasts alike and has shed light on the amazing abilities of birds to navigate vast distances. In this article, we will explore the details of the godwit’s journey, the science behind their migration, and what we can learn from this incredible journey.

Understanding the Bar-Tailed Godwit

What are Bar-Tailed Godwits?

Bar-tailed godwits are medium-sized shorebirds that breed in Alaska and Siberia and migrate to Australia and New Zealand each year. They are a type of sandpiper and have long, straight bills that they use to probe the mud for invertebrates.

Why do Bar-Tailed Godwits migrate?

Bar-tailed godwits are migratory birds that make annual round-trips of up to 29,000 km between their breeding grounds in Alaska and their non-breeding areas in New Zealand and Australia. The migration is driven by the availability of food and breeding sites in the two locations.

How do Bar-Tailed Godwits navigate?

Bar-tailed godwits use a range of navigational cues to guide their migration, including the earth’s magnetic field, the position of the sun and stars, and visual landmarks such as coastlines and rivers. They also have an innate sense of direction and are able to detect changes in wind patterns to help them adjust their flight paths.

The Incredible Journey of the Bar-Tailed Godwit

What was the route of the godwit’s journey?

The godwit that undertook the longest continuous flight traveled from Alaska to New Zealand, covering a distance of over 70,000 km. The bird made its way across the Pacific Ocean, passing over Japan, China, and Australia before arriving in New Zealand.

How did the godwit manage to fly continuously for ten months?

During its journey, the godwit flew at an altitude of around 6,000 meters, taking advantage of high-altitude winds to reduce the amount of energy it needed to expend. The bird also lost around half of its body weight during the flight, relying on its fat stores for energy.

What challenges did the godwit face during its journey?

The godwit faced a range of challenges during its journey, including storms, strong headwinds, and the risk of starvation. The bird was able to overcome these challenges through its exceptional navigational abilities and its ability to conserve energy during flight.

Lessons from the Godwit’s Journey

What can we learn from the godwit’s migration?

The godwit’s journey has provided scientists with a wealth of information about the navigational abilities of birds and the factors that influence their migration patterns. It has also highlighted the importance of conservation efforts to protect the habitats that birds rely on for breeding and feeding.

How can we help migratory birds like the bar-tailed godwit?

There are a range of actions that individuals and governments can take to support migratory birds, including protecting their breeding and feeding sites, reducing the impact of climate change, and reducing the risk of collisions with buildings and other structures.


The bar-tailed godwit’s incredible journey of over 70,000 km has amazed scientists and bird enthusiasts alike. The bird’s ability to navigate vast distances and to fly continuously for ten months is a testament to the incredible abilities of birds.

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