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This Wonder Bird Flies Thousands of Miles, Non-Stop, as Part of an Epic Migration

Smithsonian Magazine: “Long-distance migration is the most extreme and life-threatening thing that any animal does. And migratory shorebirds make the most miraculous journeys of all, given the distances they cover and their tiny size. There are some 70 species of shorebirds in the world that make the journey from the top of the globe to the bottom and back every year. The Hudsonian godwit is one of them. Named after the Canadian bay where the species was first identified, and the bird’s distinctive two-syllable cry (“god-wiiit!”), Hudsonian godwits lay their eggs each spring in this Alaskan bog. (All godwits breed in the Northern Hemisphere.) In June or July, they leave their self-sufficient hatchlings and head south. First, they fly for three days to the wetlands of Saskatchewan and feed for one month. Then they continue down through the Americas to the northern Amazon—a 4,000-mile trip. They feed again and a week later head to Argentina, feeding another time before continuing over the Andes to Chiloé Island, on the fecund Gulf of Ancud, where they arrive in September or October and winter for a little over six months. The longest leg of their journey, some 6,000 miles, is on the return from Chile. They fly night and day at speeds between 29 and 50 miles per hour, not stopping to eat, drink or rest. They pause for a couple of weeks to refuel in wetlands in the central United States—usually Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas or Oklahoma—and then continue back to the Alaskan bog. Their goal is an endless summer…”

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