Doesn’t this make you think?
The northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) weighs just 25 g but has been found to fly on average 290 km a day!
Biologists who tagged the tawny and white insectivore were stunned at its flight endurance. They attached minute geolocaters to the legs of 46 wheateaters in Alaska and on Baffin Island in the north-eastern Canada
The Alaskan birds spent the winter in Africa before returning home, a journey of about 14,500 km each way in which they flew on average 290 km a day! “This is the longest recorded migration for a songbird as far as we know,” said Dr Schmaljohann. “When we see them, they’re in the middle of a journey they do twice every year. When you think of the challenges they must face, you wonder how on earth they do it.”
They travel over Siberia across the Arabian Desert heading to Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, a trip that took about 91 days on the outward trip but 55 days for the return leg.
A tagged bird from Baffin Island flew over the North Atlantic, landed in Britain, travelled southwards across continental Europe, the Mediterranean and Sahara to winter on the coast of Mauritania, West Africa, taking 26 days out and 55 days back for a trip of about 7,500 kilometres breeding in open stony country in Europe and Asia with footholds in northeastern Canada and Greenland as well as in northwestern Canada and Alaska. It nests in rock crevices and rabbit burrows. All birds winter in Africa.
Some years ago now we had 2 young Swedish boys stay the night as they backpacked the world following the flight of migratory birds from northern Europe down to Australia. At the time I found this amazing as they literally met people on their journey who offered them a bed as they followed their quest. They were part of a huge group of “twitchers” – bird watchers which was a very popular movement amongst the young. We have since only met 1 or 2 genuine “twitchers” as serious as these boys.
Ref: The Age p9 16/02/12