Long-distance Migrant - Bar-tailed Godwit

The Bar-tailed Godwit breeds in Alaska and migrates to New Zealand.  The fall trip south from the arctic is the longest non-stop shorebird migration, and has recently been monitored with satellite GPS transmitters.  It's a fascinating story!

The epic journey

The godwits breed in Alaska, and toward the fall, begin to congregate at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, a rich feeding ground.  When winds are favorable, they take off for New Zealand.  The flight for bird E7 was 7200 miles, non-stop, and took 8 days.  There are still 4 birds in Alaska.  It will be interesting to watch their travels in the next weeks.  In the spring, they return to Alaska, stopping this time along the Chinese - Korean coastline to feed and refuel.  The spring trip is thus made up of two shorter legs.  Part of the reason for the difference is doubtless food availability, as well as a change in prevailing winds.

Godwit Number Alaska Departure Date Arrival Location
E7 (female) August 29 New Zealand (Oct 7)
E5 (female)   New Caledonia
Z0 (female)   Papua New Guinea
E8 (female)   Battery failed over Fiji


Helpful Info

GGAS recently offered a shorebird migration class at Oakland Museum; the GPS data was published just in time!


USGS program on Numeniini (Including GPS studies on Bar-tailed and Marbled Godwits and Bristle-thighed and Long-billed Curlews)includes updated maps of the birds locations .

Point Reyes Bird Observatory is a partner in this project.

You can read about the northward springtime journey at Birdlife International