Scientists In Northern Alaska Spot A Shorebird Tagged 8,000 Miles Away
(Aug. 4, 2009) — Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists studying shorebirds in western Arctic Alaska recently made a serendipitous discovery when they spotted a bar-tailed godwit with a small orange flag and aluminum band harmlessly attached to its legs. Further research revealed that scientists in Australia had banded the bird and attached the flag near Victoria – more than 8,000 miles away.
While banded birds are sometimes seen in the area where they were originally released, it is very rare to see them so far from a release site. The observation was made by WCS biologists Dr. Steve Zack and Joe Liebezeit….
Zack and Liebezeit also sighted a banded dunlin and semipalmated sandpiper both of which were originally marked and released by WCS scientists three years ago in nearby Prudhoe Bay, Alaska for a study testing to see if birds that winter in Asia are carrying highly pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza to North America. Semipalmated sandpipers migrate from South America, and dunlins migrate from Asia. So far, shorebirds have not been detected to carry H5N1 into North America.
Bar-tailed godwit: here.
Imagine a bird that every year has to fly non-stop for 10 days over 11,700 km of the open Pacific ocean between its breeding areas in Alaska and its wintering grounds in New Zealand. In Spring it returns north in two flights, from New Zealand to China (a mere 10,300 kms hop), then after refuelling for a month on the rich inter-tidal mudflats bordering the Yellow Sea, it flies a further 6,500 km to return to Alaska. Such is the annual story for some of the Bar-tailed godwits of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Then imagine what happens when that vital mudflat in China or South Korea is suddenly not there anymore: here.
Heat wave killing endangered birds in Western Australia: here.