Small songbirds called northern wheateaters fly from the Arctic to Africa on migratory routes. Those breeding in Alaska fly over Siberia, the Middle East and into Africa, totaling 9,000 miles. The songbirds that breed in Canada fly across over 2,000 miles of the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean and then into Africa. This population might be using Greenland as a stopover for food and rest. When crossing the Atlantic, they average over 500 miles per night.
“This is the only known terrestrial bird that physically links the two radically different ecosystems of the Old World and the Arctic regions of the New World,” said University of Guelph researcher Ryan Norris. (Source: LiveScience.com)
The birds very long migratory routes were made known after they had been tagged with tiny geolocators, to help researchers identify their positions as they fly. They also return from Africa to their breeding grounds in the Arctic each year after winter has ended. So altogether they spend months of each year in flight between continents. That tiny birds weighing less than one ounce can travel thousands of miles on their own, facing many different adversities is one of the more remarkable feats on the planet.
They must have a very attuned sense of navigation and extraordinary flying ability considering how much weather can change suddenly and wind current volatility.
Fortunately these world-traveling, hearty birds also have a large population that could be up to several million, so their conservation status is currently of Least Concern.
Image Credit: Aviceda