MNN Galleries

9 birds that set records for their amazing flights

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 5, 2014, 11:24 a.m.
arctic tern

Photo: ASPhoto2013/Shutterstock

5 of 11

Farthest annual migration: Arctic tern

Though they may not make a long trek with the same speed as the great snipe, the Arctic tern certainly wins for longest annual migration. This species makes a practically pole-to-pole migration every year! Birds nesting in Greenland travel an average of 44,300 miles annually to get from breeding grounds to feeding grounds in the Weddell sea in Antarctica and back, while those birds nesting in the Netherlands average 55,900 miles. It is the longest known migration in the entire animal kingdom. Arctic terns may live up to 30 years which means over the course of its lifetime, the average bird could easily fly well over a million miles. Researchers from Newcastle University recently outfitted 28 Arctic terns with tiny transmitters and tracked their voyage from the Farne Islands to Africa, reports the BBC. They found the birds took a circuitous route, likely to follow the large, spiraling wind patterns, so they can avoid flying directly into the wind.