From Alaska to Australia, godwit may have set migration record

A bar-tailed godwit walks on the coast of Australia. One bar-tailed godwit may have set a record for the longest nonstop flight after migrating from Alaska to Australia. Credit: JJ Harrison

A godwit’s round-the-world flight from Alaska to Australia may have set a migratory bird distance record. Researchers say the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) was tagged with a GPS chip as a hatchling in Alaska. At about five months old, it took off from southwest Alaska on Oct. 13. Researchers tracked it as it crossed the Pacific nonstop, landing on the island of Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, on Oct. 24. Satellite data put the flight at 8,435 miles. That’s 855 miles longer than the listed world record, also set by a bar-tailed godwit.

“Whether this is an accident, whether this bird got lost or whether this is part of a normal pattern of migration for the species, we still don’t know,” Birdlife Tasmania convenor Eric Woehler, who is part of the research project, told the Associated Press.

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