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  • Godwits - On Path

    (I have a special admiration for Bar-tailed Godwits - they look cool in flight and they travel 6000+ miles non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand - what a feat!)

    By MERVYN DYKES - Manawatu Standard | Friday, 30 March 2007

    People around the world can now tune in via satellite to follow the progress of 16 bar-tailed godwits making their return migration from New Zealand river estuaries to Alaska.



    Massey University scientists are keeping a close watch on the birds because of concern about declining populations and fears that some that stop over in Asia could contract the H5N1 bird-flu virus and transfer it to Alaska.

    Eight of the godwits have been fitted with backpack tracking devices and eight more have had devices surgically implanted.

    They can be followed on-line through http://www.werc.usgs.gov/sattrack/sh...s/overall.html

    Phil Battley, an ecologist at the Massey University's Palmerston North campus, said the tagging project would provide crucial information about the migratory behaviour of declining species.

    Throughout the East Asian and Australasian flyways, 85 percent of shorebird populations are declining, and 40 percent of shorebirds inhabiting Oceania are classified as threatened or near- threatened, he said.

    The 11,000km southern migration of the godwit from Alaska to New Zealand was thought to be the longest non-stop migration of any bird, but little was known about the northern route.

    Dr Battley is the leader of a New Zealand team involved in a collaborative research project with the United States Geological Survey and PRBO Conservation Science in the US to learn more about global migration patterns of declining shorebird species in the Pacific Basin.

    The 16 tagged birds were from the Firth of Thames and Golden Bay.

    Dr Battley said three of them had recently landed in the Yellow Sea, with one covering 11,000km in just over seven-and-a-half days at an average speed of 56kmh. "This probably qualifies as the longest migratory flight of its type measured in the world," he said. "Everything points to this bird having flown non- stop from New Zealand to China."

    The information gathered from the birds' flight will answer questions about their stops en route and their routes from New Zealand to Alaska.
    Dr Battley, who has been working on movements and demographics of godwits for the past three years, said the birds have a major stopover in the Yellow Sea region of eastern Asia. Other birds have stopped in Papua New Guinea, the southern Philippines and on an island in Micronesia. The rest are flying toward China or Korea.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/evening...1122a6502.html
    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

  • #2
    On the Path of Bird Flu

    On the Path of Bird Flu

    http://www.geotimes.org/may07/articl..._avianflu.html

    If Robert Gill gets his way, he will soon be on the sandy beach of a southern island — but that decision is ultimately up to the birds. Gill, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, is betting on the day the first bar-tailed godwit will take off for its annual migration from New Zealand to southeast Asia and then on to Alaska. Information about the godwits’ migration, collected this spring via satellite transmitters, could result in more than just an exotic trip for one lucky researcher at the science center, however; it could also forward the understanding of how and where avian influenza, or bird flu, is likely to spread.

    Uncovering the path by which bird flu could enter the United States is a task that has gained new urgency since the outbreak of the virus in Hong Kong in 1996 and 1997, and its subsequent spread to parts of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. That the virus is on the move has U.S. researchers moving quickly to improve monitoring and testing efforts. Stomping out the virus or at least minimizing its effects, however, will require the collaboration of researchers around the world sharing information gleaned from newly adapted tracking technologies.

    A mutating threat
    Before researchers could learn about how bird flu is spread, they had to learn about the nature of the strains of the virus. Low pathogenic or “low-path” strains typically cause fleeting, sometimes unnoticeable flu symptoms in birds, and are not likely to be much of a concern for humans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Highly pathogenic or “high-path” strains, however, spread quickly among wild birds and domestic poultry, often killing them, and can sometimes spread to humans.

    High-path H5N1 is of particular concern, in that this strain can be transmitted to humans coming into close contact with infected poultry. While H5N1 is not currently known to readily spread from human to human, the potential exists should the strain mutate. It is also possible for some low-path strains to mutate into high-path strains.

    A total of 25 countries and regions have reported cases of the high-path H5N1 virus in birds, according to USDA. And as of March 12, the virus had infected 278 people in 13 countries, from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, according to the World Health Organization. More than half of the cases resulted in death, and the severity of the situation has been told in numerous broadcast and print media stories.

    But the story is not over. Although humans and birds in the United States have not turned up any cases of high-path bird flu, USDA is “doing all [they] can to keep it that way,” said agriculture secretary Mike Johanns at a March 14 press conference. That effort includes the continued monitoring of the three most likely entry routes: through poultry trade, pet bird trade and wild migratory birds.

    The Alaskan gateway
    The most logical place to look for H5N1 in migratory birds is Alaska, says Jerry Hupp, a biologist at the USGS Alaska Science Center. Compared with most of North America, Alaska is closer to the primary outbreak regions in Asia and has a “stronger connectivity” of migratory species between the regions, he says.

    The northern pintail duck is one of the species that migrated between Asia and Alaska, and Hupp wants to find out where Asian pintails might be coming into contact with North American pintails during that migration. Previous tracking experiments tagged the birds with coded bands — a method that showed pintails move across continental boundaries, between North America and Japan.

    But banding experiments do not provide details about the birds’ exact path and time spent in particular locations, whether or not they nest in Siberia and Russia, or if Asian pintails mingle with American pintails. That’s because band studies depend on someone finding the band and reporting it, which is not likely to occur in remote regions such as Siberia.

    Pinpointing positions
    Tracking birds via satellite telemetry is one way to get around the lack of band recovery in remote regions. The decreasing size of electronics has allowed researchers to build tiny transmitters that they attach to the birds and that communicate with satellites to provide positional data of the bird for any location around the world. The technique allows researchers to measure the distribution of bird populations, as well as how long a bird spends in any area. “That’s something that can sometimes be a little hard to tease out of banding data,” Hupp says.

    In February, Hupp and colleagues in Japan set out to deploy 18-gram satellite transmitters on pintails wintering in Japan. They hope to uncover specifics about where pintails migrate and nest, and for how long, which will help them find out if birds migrating back to North America mingle with potential carriers of high-path bird flu. “Satellite telemetry really helps fill in the gaps,” Hupp says.

    Other USGS researchers are also employing the satellite telemetry tracking technique. Gill, for example, wants to learn about the potential for godwits to bring the virus to Alaska, by measuring their proximity to H5N1 “hotspots” when they stop in Asia during their northward migration from New Zealand.

    Gill and colleagues in New Zealand marked 16 birds, half with 25-gram implantable transmitters that will provide a location for the birds every 36 hours, from the time of attachment in February through their migration and arrival in Alaska in May. The reason for using implants, rather than external transmitters, is that godwits migrate for extremely long distances, flying eight days nonstop and covering one end of the globe to the other, Gill says. “We were reluctant to put anything external on them that might interfere with wind resistance, and is just not compatible aerodynamically to a bird that engages in such flights.” The technology has confirmed the great lengths that godwits travel and has “opened our eyes to just what marathoners these birds are,” Gill says.

    Despite the accuracy and near real-time data that can be gleaned from tracking birds via satellites, researchers are still not about to give up the tried and true banding technique. Transmitters typically cost more than $2,000 each, in addition to the cost of the data collection service, Hupp says. As such, researchers use transmitters only when leg bands are unlikely to paint a complete enough picture of bird migration.

    Meanwhile, the eight other godwits were marked externally with smaller, 10-gram, solar-powered transmitters that will track the godwits for two years and map their migratory patterns over multiple seasons. Time will tell if godwits indeed mingle with their Asian counterparts, and could potentially bring H5N1 to North America. “If your assumption is that flu will enter North America via Asia and Alaska, then [the godwit] is sort of the poster bird to follow because it does pass through these areas of known outbreaks of H5N1,” Gill says.

    Of the nine godwits caught in Alaska and tested in 2006, three tested positive for low-path bird flu. So far, the high-path strain has not turned up in Alaska or anywhere else in the United States.

    Alaska: Flu-free?
    While Alaska sees a large number of migratory birds from Asia, the state might not be as significant a risk for entry of high-path bird flu into the United States as previously thought, according to Kevin Winker of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and colleagues.

    Since 1998, Winker’s team has been screening birds for bird flu in western Alaska. Here, shorebirds congregate in the water, which was considered to be a potential pathway by which contaminated birds could spread the virus. Seven years and more than 8,000 samples later, the team concluded that the risk of viruses in general entering western Alaska through migratory birds is low, they reported in April in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Specifically, the infection rate of low-path bird flu across all birds tested by the team was less than 0.1 percent. The rate pales in comparison to infection rates found in other studies at lower latitudes: southern Minnesota at 10.8 percent, Alberta at 22.2 percent, British Columbia at 55 percent, and the Alaskan interior at 9 percent. The team attributes the Alaska coast’s low infection rate on the “Arctic effect,” which suggests that the number of birds that congregate in the water is low compared to the amount of water available to dilute the virus.

    “The results of this study suggest that the risk of the introduction of high-path H5N1 [bird flu] through migratory birds in this region is relatively low,” USDA’s Johanns says. “While this is good news, we must not let our guard down. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the nation from high-path H5N1.”

    South of the border
    Protecting the United States from high-path bird flu should include surveillance and controls on the poultry trade south of the United States, says Mark Kilpatrick, a biologist at the Consortium for Conservation Medicine in New York City. A study by Kilpatrick and colleagues found that poultry imports into the Americas pose a larger risk of introducing H5N1 into the United States than migratory birds carrying it to Alaska.

    To determine which route — migratory birds, poultry or the pet bird trade — poses the greatest risk of transmitting bird flu into the United States, Kilpatrick’s team calculated which of the three pathways was the most likely for 52 different introduction events into countries known to have cases of H5N1 bird flu. The researchers added the numbers of birds moving by various pathways — poultry versus migratory birds versus pet birds — and then multiplied those numbers by the probability that they were infected, as well as the number of days that the species of bird is known to have the potential to transmit the virus. Chickens, for example, tend to die after a few days of infection, whereas ducks can live for a number of days.

    The team found that introduction events within Asia were more likely to occur through poultry, and will therefore most likely spread to South and Central American countries through a similar route. Once there, bird flu could be carried by migratory birds northward into the United States, the team reported Dec. 19, 2006, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Poultry represents a huge risk, and so efforts should be spent on trying to basically address that pathway,” Kilpatrick says (see sidebar).

    Overall, the research aims to identify the most likely transmission route of bird flu to try to prevent its future spread, and to try to “stomp out the virus globally, so that it doesn’t pop up again and keep wreaking havoc both in the poultry industry as well as on human health,” Kilpatrick says. Indeed, bird flu has been quelled three times in U.S. history when high-path strains emerged, although those cases involved strains other than H5N1.

    Controlling the virus requires “stringent controls on poultry movement, on the interaction between wild birds and poultry, and really good veterinary care,” Kilpatrick says. “The challenge is in countries where they don’t have the resources to do that very well.”

    Staying ahead of the flu
    Government agencies are trying to meet that challenge. On March 14, Johanns met with the director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and signed an agreement to promote more collaboration between FAO and USDA to fight against the spread of animal disease, particularly bird flu.

    And in April, USDA implemented the 2007 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Early Detection System as a means to update the previous Wild Bird Surveillance Plan. As such, surveillance will continue to be conducted in the four major paths of bird migration, but will also take into account data collected in 2006 to better focus sampling on species and locations that pose the most risk, Johanns says. USDA is now “not only conducting surveillance throughout the United States; we are doing similar testing in Mexico and other strategically located countries,” said Ron DeHaven of USDA at the March 14 press conference.

    Should H5N1 eventually make its way into the United States, however, a bird flu pandemic among humans would not necessarily result, Johanns says. A pandemic would require the virus to mutate in order to become easily transmittable between humans, which has thus far not occurred. The world is currently in a phase three of a pandemic alert, which implies “no or very limited human-to-human transmission,” out of a scale from one (low risk of human cases) to six (efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission), according to WHO. Still, to avoid a pandemic like that of the 1918 flu, which killed 40 million to 50 million people worldwide, bird experts continue trying to stay one step ahead of the virus.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

      Godwits in town early
      <!-- ASX and NZX data from IRESS --> <!-- Article --> <exsl:string xmlns:exsl="http://exslt.org/common">Sep 9, 2008 7:54 AM</exsl:string>
      Bar-tailed Godwits have arrived early from Alaska but conservationists are worried about why they had to make a quick exit from their homeland.

      The birds from Alaska arrived at Christchurch's Avon-Heathcote estuaries on Sunday, almost two weeks early.

      "They snuck in under the radar," says Christchurch City Council ranger Andrew Crossland.

      "We are just glad they are here, and we are slightly concerned at the decision taken to leave their home so early," he says.

      Early arrivals have already bumped up the wintering juvenile numbers at the estuary by 122, taking the total bird numbers at the estuary to 326 on Monday.

      The bar-tailed Godwit arrives in New Zealand after a non-stop 11,000km flight over the Pacific, landing tired, worn out and starved.

      Godwits have been steadily losing large chunks of their feeding grounds in Asia, where the birds stop over on their return trip to Alaska at the end of the summer.

      http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/2064528

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

        ....conservationists are worried about why they had to make a quick exit from their homeland
        We've had a cold nasty summer - in fact, it's the 3rd coldest summer in recorded history. The snows came early, or as some said, they never quite stopped. When someone refers to this summer, many Alaskans reply "what summer?" The answer is "all two days of it."

        I'm not the least bit surprised that the arctic ice pack didn't melt more as expected. If we had a normal summer, that ice pack would have set new melting records.

        Some time back, I posted about local bird watchers saying there were fewer young birds or NO nests at all. The birds knew it was a bad summer from the start & decided to get out of town early.

        The Godwit tracking site shows their location as of 5 Sept 08. See http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biolo...g_updates.html
        Also at http://community.adn.com/mini_apps/a...655&height=963

        While scientists tracked their transmitters & showed a non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand, I've met Hawaiians who swear they've seen Godwits taking an Hawaiian layover.


        .
        Last edited by AlaskaDenise; September 17th, 2008, 05:35 AM. Reason: add more iinfo
        "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

          they are actually short before reaching Australia:

          one is still in China ? Should they fly Alaska-Hawaii-New Zealand ?
          Isn't it too early to leave for the South ? (still cold there)

          well, Northern Australia is near the equator. Still 4000km to go for New Zealand

          I count 13 paths



          I'm interested in expert panflu damage estimates
          my current links: [url]http://bit.ly/hFI7H[/url] ILI-charts: [url]http://bit.ly/CcRgT[/url]

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

            Here's the graphic for the AK > NZ birds (ref above):

            "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

              8 September 2008, 2:29PM
              The godwits have landed
              By Christchurch City Council

              The first lot of Godwits from Alaska arrived at Christchurch's
              Avon-Heathcote estuaries almost two weeks early; their arrival on Sunday
              afternoon coinciding with the start of the Conservation Week (September
              7-14).
              "They snuck in under the radar," says Council Ranger Andrew Crossland,
              who was both surprised and concerned at the early arrival. "We are just
              glad they are here, and we are slightly concerned at the decision taken
              to leave their home so early," says Mr Crossland.
              Early arrivals have already bumped up the wintering juvenile numbers at
              the estuary by 122, taking the total bird numbers at the estuary to 326
              this (Monday) morning. "They are definitely arriving now," says Mr
              Crossland, who keeps a good account of the birds throughout the year.
              Other areas in Christchurch where the godwits reside for the summer are
              Lyttelton Harbour, Brooklands Lagoon, Lake Ellesmere and the Ashley
              Estuary.
              The Eastern Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri) arrives in New
              Zealand after a non-stop 11,000 km flight over the Pacific
              , landing
              tired, worn out and starved, and get down straightway into the job of
              filling out for the trip back home.
              The godwits have been steadily losing large chunks of their feeding
              grounds in Asia, where the birds stop over on their return trip to
              Alaska at the end of the austral summer.
              "We will continue to make the Avon-Heathcote Estuaries safe and stable
              for these birds, focusing on protecting their estuarine habitat and
              minimising disturbance impacts," says Mr Crossland. He adds that most
              local estuaries are protected in some form or another so the habitat
              situation was well managed.
              "But disturbance can be a real problem, especially at high tide when the
              Godwits roost on the beach and are disturbed by passing walkers or dogs
              off their leads. If the birds cannot get sufficient rest they are
              unlikely to reach peak condition prior to migration and risk dying from
              exhaustion at sea
              ," he says.
              Also coinciding with the arrival of the godwits is the distribution to
              Christchurch primary schools of a children's book celebrating the
              importance of godwits. The distribution is undertaken by the
              Avon-Heathcote Ihutai Trust, a non-profit organisation formed by the
              public and supported by Christchurch City Council and Environment
              Canterbury.
              "Skalaska's New Home" will be sent out to schools over the next 14 days,
              with the aim to develop a better understanding among children for the
              godwits. "It is delightful story for children to understand what it
              would be like to be just a little bird in a strange country and the
              problems it faces to survive," says Tanya Jenkins, Education committee
              member for the Ihutai Trust.
              The story is about Skalaska, the young godwit who flies into
              Christchurch with his family, and the problems they face in the estuary;
              Skalaska gets caught in litter carelessly dropped by people visiting the
              estuary, putting him into a very dangerous situation.
              The book is written by Marlene Bennetts, local well-known children's
              book author with delightful graphics by another local, Trish Bowles,
              says Ms Jenkins


              Safety note:
              Walkers can minimise their impact to almost zero if they give the
              roosting flocks a wide berth and walk between the birds and the dunes
              (never between the birds and sea as this frightens the birds). People
              walking dogs have a legal obligation to prevent their animals from
              chasing protected wildlife, so all dogs should be under effective
              control. If any member of the public observes dogs chasing the Godwits
              or other wildlife they should report this to the CCC animal control
              team.

              http://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?l=1&t=156&id=27140

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

                ahh,
                so only the
                Eastern Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri)
                flies over Hawaii

                sorry, I don't read all the posts when they are long
                I'm interested in expert panflu damage estimates
                my current links: [url]http://bit.ly/hFI7H[/url] ILI-charts: [url]http://bit.ly/CcRgT[/url]

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

                  Interesting facts from http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF17/1742.html

                  .....bar-tailed godwits can’t rest on the ocean during the five-to-six day trip, instead relying on fat reserves that sometimes double their weight.
                  Since the birds don’t need their guts to feed during flight, they’ve evolved to shrink them, replacing the weight with fat and muscle, Gill said. Even when bulging with fat, godwits are sleek flying machines.
                  “Godwits look like the Concorde when they’re flying,” Gill said.
                  “All the departures we’ve observed to date were associated with low pressure systems,” Gill said. “The birds get on the back side of these lows and get 900 to 1,200 kilometers (558 to 744 miles) of pretty strong tailwinds.”
                  .
                  "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: On the Path of Bird Flu

                    Call to put godwits back on the menu

                    Kingi Ihaka
                    Wed, 10 Sep 2008 5:33p.m.
                    A Maori authority on godwits says it is time the birds were put back on the dinner menu.
                    Hunting them was made illegal over 60 years ago as population numbers were declining, but the call of the godwit is now being matched by the call of the godwit gobbler.
                    The godwits arrived early this year, but instead of a long summer dining out on the country's mudflats, they could be a tempting dinner themselves.
                    "I think it's time that that bird paid its dues to New Zealand," says broadcaster Kingi Ihaka. "I mean it comes here, it fattens itself up. For the few that are eaten, I would imagine they would survive the impact of the loss."
                    Mr Ihaka says godwits, or kuaka, were an important food source for northern Maori and settlers until hunting was banned shortly after World War II.
                    He believes a limited hunting season under strict conditions would not do any harm.
                    "I'd rather shoot them with a camera personally, but what about people older than myself who yearn for the taste of that particular bird?" he asks. "It's denied them. Why not allow the odd one or three to be captured and fed to the elders?"
                    So what do they taste like? Mr Ihaka says like nothing you've ever tasted before. His wife, more enlighteningly, describes it as fatty, fishy, chicken.
                    Mr Ihaka says the damage done by land reclamations and aquaculture, especially in China, Japan and Korea, is a much bigger problem for the godwit population than a few hui in Northland would be.
                    The Forest and Bird Protection Society agrees it is the northern hemisphere countries that are the real problem, but says it is too soon to put on the pot.
                    "I think it's probably not the right time to do it," says Mark Bellingham. "I think it's a fairly large debate that needs to go on not only within Maoridom, but around New Zealand generally about whether we should be lifting the status of our protected species."
                    The number of godwits coming to New Zealand is down by as much as 30 percent in the last 20 years, from over 100,000 in the 1980s to around 70,000 now.
                    So not rare - just medium rare.
                    The New Zealand mudflats make an ideal feeding ground for godwits. By the end of summer they are so fat they can hardly fly: a tasty meal for some, but one that could be costly. The maximum fine for killing a godwit is $10,000.


                    http://www.3news.co.nz/Calltoputgodw...rticleID=70877

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Godwits - On the Path of Bird Flu

                      Bar-tailed godwits


                      Bar-tailed godwits’ migration route


                      Flock of bar-tailed godwits


                      ‘The godwits have risen and flown’


                      Non-stop flyers

                      Bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) are the most common Arctic migrant to New Zealand. In 2005 scientists reported that they make the longest non-stop flight of all birds – an amazing 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to New Zealand, in only five or six days. It was already known that the departure and arrival were only days apart. The hunch that godwits fly over open ocean and outside any coastal migration route had also been supported by traditional Polynesian accounts of the birds, known as kūaka, flying over the Pacific Islands on their way south. In addition, godwits banded by researchers in Alaska had not subsequently been sighted along the east-Asian flyway during their southward migration.
                      The southern migration

                      When it is time for the godwits to migrate south, they wait for storms that provide them with tail winds of 40–80 kilometres per hour for the first 1,600 kilometres. Observers report that when the birds finally reach New Zealand they fall asleep, but within hours begin feeding to replenish what they lost en route – about half their body weight. Three months later, in preparation for the northward return flight, they start to stock up on food, doubling their body mass.
                      Arriving from late September, during the southern hemisphere spring, the majority of the 80,000–100,000 godwits head for Kaipara and Manukau harbours, the Firth of Thames, Farewell Spit, and the Avon–Heathcote estuary near Christchurch. In large flocks they feed on molluscs, crabs, marine worms and aquatic insects, probing the mud with their long bills as the tide recedes.
                      These relatively large waders average 40 centimetres and 325 grams, the females heavier than males. Brown with a long bill and medium length legs, their front turns ruddy red when they are plump and ready for the return journey.
                      http://www.teara.govt.nz/EarthSeaAnd...dingBirds/7/en

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wading bird travels 7,000 miles nonstop to break flying record [The Guardian]

                        Wading bird travels 7,000 miles nonstop to break flying record [The Guardian]


                        A bar-tailed godwit has been crowned the endurance champion of the animal kingdom after completing an epic 7,200 mile nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand.


                        The wading bird's journey lasted more than eight days with no rest or food, and took it into a place in the record books. Scientists tracking the bird's flight said it was unprecedented.
                        Theunis Piersma, a biologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who worked on the study, said: "There is something special going on here. For a vertebrate this kind of endurance is just extraordinary."
                        The long-haul flight of the godwits, from their breeding to feeding grounds, was first reported last year, but scientists have now analysed the journeys and have reported their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
                        Led by Bob Gill of the US Geological Survey, the scientists say: "These extraordinary nonstop flights establish new extremes for avian flight performance and have profound implications for understanding the physiological capabilities of vertebrates."
                        Curious about the role migratory birds play in spreading avian influenza, the scientists captured godwits in 2006 and 2007 and fitted them with satellite transmitters to track their journeys. On the southward leg, the birds flew nonstop for up to nine days and covered more than 7,000 miles. The scientists say the flight path shows the birds did not feed en route and would be unlikely to sleep.
                        Piersma said the birds would have flapped their wings nonstop for the entire journey, and that the resulting energy requirement was the greatest in the animal kingdom. The birds would have gobbled up energy at some eight times their resting basic metabolic rate (BMR) during their week-long exertion, he said.
                        Peak human performance is measured in professional cyclists, who can only manage about five times BMR for a few hours. "Lance Armstrong would be no competition for these birds," he said.
                        The scientists suggest that the central Pacific may act as a ecological corridor because, unlike coastal routes, there are few predators or diseases. But they say climate change could alter its suitability by changing the strength and frequency of winds.
                        --


                        View Original Article

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                        • #13
                          Re: Godwits - On the Path of Bird Flu

                          ...The birds would have gobbled up energy at some eight times their resting basic metabolic rate (BMR) during their week-long exertion, he said.

                          Peak human performance is measured in professional cyclists, who can only manage about five times BMR for a few hours. "Lance Armstrong would be no competition for these birds," he said. ...
                          Have there been any studies as to why migratory birds are able to accomplish such a record performance?

                          How much of this performance ability is similar to the human psysiological changes from a calorie-restricted diet, i.e., improved "gas" mileage, DNA repair, and cell longevity?

                          .
                          "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Godwits - On the Path of Bird Flu

                            Godwits arrive in Christchurch
                            15/09/2009

                            The godwits have arrived from Alaska, marking the start of spring.


                            Forty of the birds arrived at Christchurch's Avon-Heathcote estuaries about 11am today after a non-stop 11,000km flight.

                            The godwits head the list of 23 species of migrant birds that have been recorded using the Estuary as a sanctuary during the northern winter.

                            The Estuary covers 880 hectares and is internationally recognised as an important wetland for birds.

                            The Godwits arrival and departure, as well as those of other migrant species of wetland birds, is closely monitored by the Council rangers and local bird watchers every year.

                            Among the 136 bird species recorded on the Estuary, the Bar-tailed Godwit is by far the most abundant of the 23 migratory species from the Northern Hemisphere, and ecologically, the most important.

                            http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/new...n-Christchurch

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Godwits - On the Path of Bird Flu

                              Give them another blue ribbon. (after the caviar & champagne)

                              They are truly amazing.

                              .
                              "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

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