6 Birds That Are Champion Flyers

Today marks the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s solo flight across the Pacific. It seemed only appropriate to compile a few birds with record flights and champion abilities. Like Amelia, these birds are nothing short of impressive. Which avians would you add to the list?

Farthest Annual Migration: Arctic Tern

These migratory marvels travel the longest total distance per year of any animal. Arctic terns have been known to fly nearly 50,000 miles (stops included) annually. 

Longest Nonstop Flight: Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed godwits fly over the entire length of the Pacific ocean, making them the champions of long-distance nonstop flight. They’ve been documented flying nearly 8,000 miles one way!

Bar-tailed godwit by Wayne Butterworth.

Bar-tailed godwit by Wayne Butterworth.

Fastest (Gravity Assisted) Flight: Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcons are the fastest dive-bombing birds. When they stoop to catch prey, they reach speeds of up to 200 miles (320 km) per hour!

Peregrine Falcon

This is a nesting adult peregrine falcon. The background is the Hudson River. The shot was taken from a cliff ledge about 525 feet above river level. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Herb Houghton.

Fastest (Level) Flight: Grey-headed Albatross

Though there is tough competition in this category, the grey-headed albatross holds the official Guinness World Record for horizontal flight speed at 78.9 miles (127 km) per hour.

Grey-headed Albatross

Grey-headed albatross. Southern Ocean, Drake’s Passage area. Photo by Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, NOAA Corps.

Acrobatic Flight: Hummingbird

With their diving, darting and backward flight, hummingbirds are aerial delights and champions of acrobatic flight.

A hummingbird near Blue Mountain Lake in New York's Adirondacks. Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant .

A hummingbird near Blue Mountain Lake in New York’s Adirondacks. Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant .

First Songbirds Tracked Through Entire Migration

Back in 2007, scientists attached geolocators to 20 purple martins in northern Pennsylvania. Two of those purple martins returned the following year, becoming the first songbirds ever tracked through their entire migration

Purple Martin, Progne subis (Linnaeus, 1758). Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Sussex Co., Delaware, USA. Photo by David L. Govoni ©2012

Purple Martin, Progne subis (Linnaeus, 1758). Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Sussex Co., Delaware, USA. Photo by David L. Govoni ©2012

How to Help

If you feel inspired to get involved to help these champion flyers, here are a few ideas how to get started:

 

Never Miss A Story!

© 1996-2017 National Wildlife Federation   |   PO Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583   |   1-800-822-9919 (M-F 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST)

National Wildlife Federation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Protect Wildlife