Whimbrel in record migratory flight distance

posted in: Migration-Migrants, Waders | 2


Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) are large brown waders with a prominent curved bill. These birds breed in the subarctic and arctic regions and winter south, moving to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, as well as all the way down to the southern parts of South America and Africa. In Singapore it is a common winter visitor and passage migrant, as shown in the image above, taken at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.


Researchers from the College of William and Mary’s Center for Conservation Biology and The Nature Conservancy in the US have observed the record-setting migration of a female Whimbrel named Winnie from its feeding grounds on the Delmarva Peninsula in the east coast of the US to breeding grounds on the McKenzie River near the Alaska-Canada border (see map, left).

Fitted with a state-of-the-art satellite tracking device weighing just over a third of an ounce, Winnie (left, insert) left the study area on 23rd May 2008, flying northwest at an average flight speed of nearly 22 miles per hour, covering more than 5,000 kilometers (3,200 miles) in no more than 146 hours. This is a new distance record in the flight range of this species. For more information, check out this LINK.

We thank Erin Zagursky, University Relations, College of William and Mary for updating us.

Joe McClain
July 2008
(Image of Whimbrel by Dr Eric Tan, that of Winnie and her migrating route courtesy of the Center for Conservation Biology, US)

2 Responses

  1. Noni

    Hi, I come from Indonesia and I always shorebird watching. There are a lot of Whimbrel in Fish Pond,Surabaya and Cemara Beach, Jambi Indonesia. If you go to Indonesia, please come to Surabaya and Jambi.

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