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Migrating Bar-tailed Godwits


Bar-tailed Godwit. Copyright Steven N.G. Howell.
Information is flowing in from the satellite tags that several Bar-tailed Godwits are wearing on their migration from wintering grounds in New Zealand toward their western Alaska breeding grounds. This species is one of the longest-distance migrants among shorebirds, and little is known about the particulars of its migration route around the Pacific basin.

Here are some of the facts gleaned so far from this cooperative research project (see Observer 147, Winter 2007).

Sixteen godwits were marked in New Zealand.

As of May 1, six birds had arrived in the Yellow Sea region after flying nonstop 6,000-plus miles.

By May 3, two were flying across the North Pacific toward Alaska!

Three were at the Yalu Jiang Reserve in China.

One bird spent a month on Yap, in Micronesia, before flying to Okinawa, Japan (where it was photographed by an Okinawa Wild Bird Society member).

Two more have been photographed in Asan Bay, South Korea.

Another recently arrived in southeastern South Korea via Tsushima Island, Japan. The latest tracking results are posted at www.prbo.org. Click on "Track Migrating Godwits in New Zealand." To follow the birds, using Google Earth, click "view maps of where the birds are now," and then explore various links to learn where individual Bar-tailed Godwits are now.