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'They’re flying machines – just like little fighter jets'

The bar-tailed godwit flies non-stop for nine days from Alaska to New Zealand. Somehow they sense the weather over the Pacific Ocean when choosing when to start this epic migration.

The bar-tailed godwit flies non-stop for longer than any other bird species. From Alaska to New Zealand, it is about 12,000 kilometres and it takes the birds between eight and nine days. Somehow the birds are able to pick the best time to start this epic journey by sensing when the weather conditions across the Pacific Ocean will favour the quickest travel time. Flyway ecologist Theunis Piersma and shorebird research Lee Tibbitts tell this extraordinary story to Ann Jones.

(Photo: Bar-tailed godwits. Credit: Ann Jones)

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4 minutes