Birds are known for migrating long distances, but some birds can fly much farther than others. Bar-tailed godwits, bristled-thighed curlews, and arctic terns can travel more than 7,000 miles. They can travel thousands of miles above the ocean without stopping to eat or orient themselves.These birds have adapted in order to take these long journeys.
When preparing for their journey these birds eat huge amounts of food, causing their liver and intestines to increase in size, which gives them the ability to hold more food. They then digest as fast as possible. In this process, they build large breast muscles and store extra food as fat. When they are ready to travel, their bodies are 55 percent fat. They use the fat as a source of energy which is why they do not need to stop for food along the way.
Scientists are trying to figure out how these birds know exactly where to fly. They know that some birds use the Earth's magnetic field to navigate, and suspect they probably have other tricks for figuring out where they need to go as well.
These clever strategies allow these birds to fly continuously for thousands of miles. But scientists still have a lot to learn about exactly how these birds manage to do this. These are just some of the amazing mysteries of birds.
[Sources: Simpson Street Free Press Archives; The New York Times]