Thursday, August 12, 2021

Bar-tailed Godwit

Among the 500 Marbled Godwits loafed a slightly smaller, definitely paler individual. “Bar-tailed Godwit!” shouted our boat bird spotters. I still don’t understand how they found this needle among the godwits. The guides must have known vagrant Bar-tailed Godwits are a slim possibility along the Washington coast—and they knew just what to look for. 

Bar-tailed Godwits breed across the Eastern Hemisphere arctic. A few breed in western Alaska. The Alaskan birds undergo an elliptical migration. In the fall, they fly non-stop to New Zealand and eastern Australia. In the spring, they likely have a two stage migration, stopping once along the coast of China. This southbound migration is the longest nonstop light of any bird, and the total distance for their annual flight is some 25,000 km (McCaffery and Gill 2020). Instead of flying to New Zealand, a few of the Alaskan birds wander south along the west coast of North America.

This sighting is my first from North America, but I have seen a Bar-tailed Godwit before—on the Somali coast in Mogadishu on 21 August 1962—but that, I think, is another story.

No comments:

Post a Comment