top of page

What If the Bar-Tailed Godwit Can Fly Farther Than Any Bird?!

The bar-tailed godwit might be able to breath without its butt, but boy can it fly without stopping!

What: With a flight of 7,500 miles (12,070 km)he bar-tailed godwit holds the world record for nonstop avian migration!

Who: Since it's doubtful the bar-tailed godwit would have self-reported it's world record, the team of scientist at the Global Flyway Network recorded the feat.

When: When does the bar-tailed godwit take flight? Whenever summer is over: the bar-tailed godwit leaves its half-time home in Alaska at the end of its long summer to head to its other home in New Zealand on the underside of the Earth; then, the bar-tailed godwit returns when the New Zealand summer starts to set.

Where: The bar-tailed godwits fly back and forth from Alaska to New Zealand on a regular basis.

How: How fast does the bar-tailed godwit fly during its massive migration? Up to 55 miles per hour!

Why: Why does the bar-tailed godwit take flight? The bar-tailed godwit loves summer so much, it's willing to fly thousands of miles to stay there, so whenever winter is coming, the bar-tailed godwit hightails it out of one, globally extreme location to another.

Huh?: Wait, how can a bird fly for 11 days without sleeping or stopping?

“They have an incredibly efficient fuel-to-energy rate,” Jesse Conklin, a scientist with the Global Flyway Network, tells The Guardian. “They are designed like a jet fighter. [They have] long, pointed wings and a really sleek design, which gives them a lot of aerodynamic potential.” Smithsonian Magazine

Wow!: What if the bar-tailed godwit's ability to fly incredible distances isn't even its most remarkable ability?! In order to prepare for its nonstop flight, the bar-tailed godwit has adapted the ability to shrink some of its organs as it doubles its weight--mainly in fat--to provide fuel for its flight!

Thanks for getting curious about animal abilities and adaptations with the Butt-Breathing Turtle. Keep getting curious about animals with The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and its free Educator's Guide!

Thank you for your curiosity, stay curious, and let your curiosity lead your learning with more Curiosity-Based Learning content and activities from What If Curiosity!

Thank you eBird for the image of the bar-tailed godwit!


bottom of page