Tiny Bird Incredible Migratory Journeys (Video)

This truly is a remarkable little bird, known as a Northern Wheatear; this bird weighs all of 25 grams or 0.88 ounces, or about two tablespoon of sugar. These little birds make the longest journeys of any small bird. It migrates from Sub-Saharan Africa in Spring over a vast area of the northern hemisphere that includes northern and central Asia, Europe, Greenland, Alaska, and parts of Canada. In Autumn all return to Africa, where their ancestors had spent the winter.

Oenanthe oenanthe English: A Northern Wheatear...

Image via Wikipedia

Birds breeding in eastern Canada are thought to fly from Baffin Island and Newfoundland via Greenland, Ireland, and Portugal to the Azores (crossing 3500 km or 2,174 miles of the North Atlantic) before flying onwards to Africa. Other populations from western Canada and Alaska migrate by flying over much of Eurasia to Africa.

Miniature tracking devices have recently shown that the Northern Wheatear has one of the longest migratory flights known – 30,000km or 18,640 miles, from sub-Saharan Africa to their Arctic breeding grounds.

English: Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)...

Image via Wikipedia

“The Alaskan birds travelled almost 15,000km or 9,000 miles each way – crossing Siberia and the Arabian Desert, and travelling, on average, 290km or 180 miles per day. “This is the longest recorded migration for a songbird as far as we know,” said Dr Schmaljohann.
In the 16th century these birds were called “White-arse” because of their prominent white rump.

Wikipedia has some very good information about these birds.
To read more about the study and tracking devices, there is an article on this in
Biology Letters published by the Royal Society.

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66 Responses to Tiny Bird Incredible Migratory Journeys (Video)

  1. wolke205 says:

    Amazing lil birds! What a long journey! “White-arse” lol Sweet πŸ˜€

  2. I adore the name Dr. Schmaljohann…little John…am earmarking the name for a short story! Such a lovely little bird and what an astonishing journey. Humans are really boring compared to that! Thanks for this wonderful, informative post.

  3. niasunset says:

    WOW! This is so beautiful dear Mags, have you watched the film of Jaques Perrin’s “Winged Migration”… I remembered this now. Thank you dear Mags, this was an amazing post, with my love, nia

  4. megtraveling says:

    Such a cute little bird, yet so tough. Great story – thanks!

  5. Tony McGurk says:

    Isn’t it amazing that such tiny birds can acheive such remarkable journeys. I need my motorbike just to get me to & from work each day

  6. Inspiring wee bird! Kind of puts my challenges into perspective! You find the best stuff, Mags

  7. E.C. says:

    What a sweetie-tweetie! πŸ™‚
    I always stand in awe when I here of such a tiny creature making such long distance flights every year and it surviving. It’s just remarkable and inspiring. πŸ™‚

    It looks like wp has resolved the issue on the blogs I’ve visited so far.
    Thank you for all the help and support you gave me. You’re a peach and I’m thankful you’re my blogging buddy. ((((hugs)))

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi E.C.
      It is very inspiring indeed, and they stop for breaks at the same spot every year, just amazing. πŸ˜€

      I had a look in the forums this morning (morning here) and there are still new complaints coming in. I haven’t had any trouble commenting at all while logged in, and I had a comment from a non-blogger when all this started, but a lot of people are having problems especially with there gravatar and e-mail being connected. We can only hope for the best, and hope it all gets sorted out soon.

      For those that don’t know what is happening with comments, here is a link to the forum:
      WordPress comment forum

  8. Windsmoke. says:

    Its certainly an amazing long journey these little fellas undertake :-).

  9. Lenore Diane says:

    That is amazing, Mags. Reminds of the long journey traveled by the Monarch butterflies. Nature is incredible.

  10. Rebekah says:

    Wonderful post. I’ve often thought about this … wondering how they do it?! All the energy it takes, and I don’t know if/when they stop to re-fuel.

    I’ve watched Winged Migration [awesome], and now we have Frozen Planet on Sundays, which is likewise awesome. It’s on Discovery channel, I think..

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Rebekah,
      I often wondered as well, that is why I was more than impressed when this study on these birds were just recently released. Can you imagine how small the tracking devices must of been, and then to actually attach them to their legs? It would not of been easy I’m sure, they did a marvelous job studying these very small birds.

  11. gitwizard says:

    Haven’t seen these birds, but we are constantly entertained by the antics of Blue Tits and their larger friends the Great Tits on the bird feeders outside the kitchen window, I could watch them for hours.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi gitwizard,
      I also love watching birds. How lovely to have feeders outside your window, that must be wonderful to listen to the different birds. πŸ˜€

  12. ~mimo~ says:

    amazing creatures! so inspiring to read about the marvels of nature that we seem to forget while staring at our high resolution screens πŸ™‚

  13. aFrankAngle says:

    Wonderful … and you continue to amaze me with your findings. So, here’s what I’m wondering. Bird with the longest migration over water, which would be one heck of a nonstop journey.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi aFrankAngle,
      I’m glad you enjoyed reading about this tiny bird. πŸ˜€
      The bird with the longest migration over water is an easy one to answer, it involves Australia. πŸ™‚
      The Artic Tern was once recorded flying from Farne Islands UK to Australia in the early 80’s a sea journey of over 22,000 km or 14,000 miles in 3 months.
      I looked up the Artic Tern in Wikipedia if you are interested.
      Artic Tern

      • aFrankAngle says:

        Oh my my … and you knew that! Well done. Interesting stuff and yes, I read the Wikipedia links. Thanks.

        • magsx2 says:

          Don’t be too impressed, a lot of people that were around in the 80’s here in OZ would of most likely known that one. It was all over the news about that particular study, in the newspapers, this bird was very famous for a few months. πŸ˜€
          However I couldn’t remember how far it flew exactly, just the name of the bird and I knew it had started from the UK, a lot of others probably remembered more. πŸ™‚

  14. Elyse says:

    Mags, you find the best stuff! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  15. jmgoyder says:

    And we think we’re highly evolved.

  16. I do like the “white arse” birdies!!

  17. That was short! But very sweet. They must float a lot on wind currents. I don’t see how they could possibly travel so far over deserts otherwise.

  18. Linda Vernon says:

    What could they possible eat that would sustain them for such a long trip. Their little stomachs can’t be very big! It’s just unbelievable, isn’t it?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Linda,
      I really don’t know what they usually eat, but I assume because of their size it would have to be seeds of different plants, they are too small I think for insects, but I could be wrong. πŸ™‚

  19. tempo says:

    We have a Stilt here that turns up in our Autumn for a few months, I’ve always seen them but never wondered where they came from. Recent studies show they fly from Siberia to Southern Australia each year..amazing!

  20. The Emu says:

    Great interesting blog mate , you are certainly an intrepid researcher
    Aussie Emu

  21. dfb says:

    Fabulously informative, educational post!

  22. Indira says:

    Amazing and beautiful.

  23. El Guapo says:

    Cute bird, incredible migration.
    I remember hearing of one overseas migration, when the birds reached a small island, they would just crash to earth because they were so tired.
    I wonder if that’s the one you were discussing with Frank above.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi El Guapo,
      I don’t think it would of been the same bird, but very interesting none the less. It is incredible what their little bodies are capable of.

  24. This is incredible and I thought that geese had a long flight ahead of them. Very interesting article and I read the wiki. Thank you for sharing this finding. πŸ™‚

  25. What a sweet little bird – it’s astonishing how far it migrates! If it came through my part of the globe I’d be waiting to see it every year!

  26. Arindam says:

    Hi Mags,
    What a Beautiful bird! It may be very small in size & less in weight , still it manages to travel such a long distance. Really interesting post.

  27. dearrosie says:

    A migration of 9,000 miles! How can such a small bird fly so far and not get lost or hungry? I still don’t drive downtown because I’m scared of getting lost in all the one-way streets.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi dearrosie,
      They are incrediable little birds, to be able to go such distances.
      There is also certain places I don’t like driving either for exactly the same reason. πŸ™‚

  28. Fergiemoto says:

    What an amazing little bird! I love the story. Thanks for the info, and as you probably figured out, I do like birds.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Fergiemoto,
      Yes very amazing for it’s size, there is a lot to like about our wide variety of birds, they are beautiful in their own way. πŸ™‚

  29. Selma says:

    I cannot believe how far they fly. Dear little things. It just shows you don’t have to be big to be courageous!

  30. Randel says:

    Incredible journey for such a small creature. Beauty of a bird too. Wow.

  31. Lovely little birds. I have never heard of them before. I am a bird person but not one who knows all the beautiful winged creatures. Just the ones in my own backyard. Thank you for this video and info.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi purpleborough,
      Birds are gorgeous, I love listening to them of a morning, and we also get different birds of an afternoon chirping away. πŸ˜€

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