Sunday, April 8, 2012

Godwit, the global traveller

The bar-tailed godwit is an extraodinary bird. He spends half of his year - from September through March, enjoying a southern hemisphere summer - before making the long journey back to the Arctic to breed. It breeds in Alaska, Scandinavia and Northern Asia. Durin gthe journey the bird flies for approximately 11, 000 km over the period of around 9 days. It does not pause to feed. Upon arriving in New Zealand it first sleeps, then eats. And eats. He will have lost about half his body weight. His diet is molluscs and worms, crabs and aquatic insects. Females are larger than males. Over the southern summer, he will eat until his body weight doubles, and then his tummy turns red, signifying that he is ready to make the long journey back to breed.

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