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Long-Distance Flyers

Think you travel a lot? The diminutive red knot probably has you beat, traveling from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego—a distance of 9,300 miles each way—each year. And it does it all under its own steam.

We just added two of these long distance flyers to our Aviary exhibit. You can also view them on our live web cam.

While red knots could put most business travelers to shame, ours have been forced to stick closer to home, due to permanent wing injuries. The pair (a male and female) flew here—in a plane—from the Florida Aquarium, which has hosted them for more than a decade.

Reading up on Red Knots

Red knots (Calidris canutus) are one of the larger sandpipers, and can live to a ripe age. Scientists recently discovered a 21-year-old

The birds, which grow to 10 inches, can occasionally be seen in local estuaries such as Elkhorn Slough. But these sightings are rare. These mileage champs breed in some of the coldest places in the world, and winter in some of the hottest. While they travel vast distances, red knots depend on certain stops along the way to fuel up, such as in Hudson Bay and Brazil. This can create challenges for the birds if food sources—particularly horseshoe crab eggs—are in short supply due to overharvesting.

“We’re really excited to have them,” says aviculturist Eric Miller. “Though they’re not technically endangered, red knots in some parts of the world are declining, and this is a great chance for people to see them.”

Elizabeth Bishop has a great poem about sandpipers… a link will come in a later post if the poem is available online.  

Can you imagine flying 18,600 miles every year?  Or even biking that far?  These birds have some serious endurance!  What would it be like to watch the terrain change beneath you as you fly from the Arctic to the rainforest?  

SLH 

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via Monterey Bay Aquarium
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    Elizabeth Bishop has a great poem about sandpipers… a link will come in a later post if the poem is available online....
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    Red Knot
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