From a very early age, we all know that most bird species fly away to warmer climes for the winter, and return to their usual habitats in spring.
The most interesting thing is that flocks of birds cover huge distances! At the same time, they adhere to constant routes and almost always fly to already familiar nesting sites.
Of course, many people have a question: how far can a bird fly from its usual place of life in order to survive the winter in warmth, satiety and comfort?
What determines the distance of a bird’s flight
Ornithologists say that birds can fly without stopping for 6-8 days. And purely theoretically, in order to choose a wintering place, birds can fly around the entire globe, sometimes landing on the water to rest.
But they don’t need it. Migratory birds «travel» for only one reason: to find an area with enough food (bugs, flies, worms, larvae) and a comfortable air temperature. And for this they do not need to cross the entire planet! Where it is coziest, warmest and most satisfying of all — they landed there.
In general, bird’s-eye distance depends on several factors:
- From bird food (if they feed on specific beetles that are found in Transcaucasia, then the school will fly there, and not to Africa, where there are no such beetles);
- From the muscle device. The structure of the bird’s body differs markedly from the body of mammals: their muscles are stronger, more resilient, and physiological processes occur at a different level. At the same time, the size of the birds here does not matter at all! On the contrary, the most «long-flying» migratory birds, bar-tailed godwit, are rather small birds, although they look pot-bellied and short-legged. But even a falcon or an eagle can envy their endurance and muscle structure!
- From metabolism. The more adapted the body of a bird to a long-distance flight, the farther they fly for wintering. The same godwit, for example, gain a lot of weight before the flight. If we imagine them as people, their mass would be about 120 kilograms! During the flight (8-9 days) they do not eat anything and do not sleep, and therefore they arrive at the wintering place very emaciated.
Which birds fly away to winter the farthest
So how far can a bird fly? There is no general answer to this question, since the flight distance depends only on the type of bird. But, of course, there are bird families that can be called champions in this matter.
one. Arctic tern. This bird migrates from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Her one-way flight lasts about a month, and sometimes longer! During this time, several times terns sit down to rest on the water, and then take off and continue flying. Scientists have calculated that in their entire life, the arctic tern covers a distance comparable to flying to the moon and back three times!
2. Sandpiper. These birds do not fly over water, but over land. Their migration begins in Canada, Alaska or Siberia, and ends in South America.
3. brown-winged plover. A small motley bird overcomes not such a long distance — about 4000 kilometers. However, it flies over a very turbulent place, over the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Canada to Scotland. They do not land on water, but if the weather conditions over the Atlantic are too severe, they can stop to wait in the Bahamas or Venezuela.
four. Little Godwit. These birds from the snipe family travel a truly great distance to spend the winter. They fly from Alaska to New Zealand. Their journey takes almost 8-9 days without landing, which is about 11-15 thousand kilometers! In this, the barwits are undoubted record holders, because other birds always stop to rest. But they fly back home with one stop in China.
The birds that we constantly see in Russia, it turns out, also choose long distances for their wintering. For example, swallows, cranes, nightingales prefer Africa. They migrate most often to Kenya. Thrushes love Europe, in winter they can be found in Portugal, Spain, Italy, in the south of France. Wagtails winter in India, and swans in Greece.
It can be said that birds are able to practically cross the globe if they stop to rest, follow a tailwind, properly distribute energy and store enough fat before flying. Well, the first record holder in the flight distance is, of course, the Arctic tern: a bird weighing 100 grams flies to the wintering place in one direction about 30-40,000 kilometers.