Thursday, 16 February 2012

An Incredible Journey

Imagine spending half your time in the Arctic and half in sub Saharan Africa, it would be hard enough keeping track of which clothes you needed let alone anything else. Now imagine you're doing that, but you're only 25g and you have to make your own way between the two places. It seems near impossible but this is exactly what scientists have discovered Northern Wheatears do every year. The 46 birds which were studied were tracked by attaching tiny (1.4g) satellite devices which recorded position twice a day for 90 days. Prior to this research the bird's wintering ground was unknown.

These birds are particularly interesting to scientists because, taking size into account, they have one of the longest migrations of any bird and possibly the largest range of any songbird in the world. Their breeding grounds range across Eastern Canadian Arctic,Greenland, Eurasia and Alaska. Raising young in the Arctic is a feat in itself but then flying 15,000 km across the world to spend the winter is truly stunning.

File:Oenanthe oenanthe -Iceland-8.jpg
Copyright: Ómar Runólfsson
Hopefully this research will enable a better understanding of this incredible bird and will allow us to find new ways of protecting the fantastic wildlife around us.

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