In our autumn, Bar-tailed Godwits fly non-stop for nine days across the Pacific, to reach New Zealand from Alaska. Each spring, the birds make the trip north to breed. But this time, they stop before they reach Alaska, to refuel on the shores of northeast China and the Korean peninsula. Ornithologist David Melville of New Zealand says: "It's really important that China and North and South Korea, recognize the international responsibility that they carry to continue to provide habitat for these birds."
Bar-tailed Godwits in Spring
Interview of David Melville by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote.
[Calls of several Bar-tailed Godwits]
In our autumn, Bar-tailed Godwits fly non-stop for nine days across the Pacific, to reach New Zealand from Alaska. Each spring, these shorebirds make the trip north to breed, but this time they refuel on the shores of northeast China and the Korean peninsula. We called ornithologist David Melville in New Zealand, to learn more:
T8 : 2 The first Bar-tailed Godwits leave NZ about the second week of March and it’s going to take them about 8 days to fly the ten and a half thousand kilometers up to the Yellow Sea. Again this is a non-stop flight… Once they get up to the Yellow Sea, [the sea ice is now melted and] there’s a fantastic amount of food out on the mudflats… And this is really important for the birds to be able to stock up, [build up their body reserves], before the six-thousand-kilometer flight across to Alaska.
T10 :40 It’s an absolutely extraordinary achievement for a bird to be able to do and I think it’s incredibly humbling for us as humans to think what nature’s capable of.
T17 :17 …. The real crunch point for these birds undoubtedly is the Yellow Sea. ……It’s really important that China, North and South Korea, recognize the international responsibility that they carry to continue to provide habitat for these birds, whilst undoubtedly needing to allow for economic development of their own countries.
Economic development and vital foraging grounds – is it possible to have both?
T17 :60 I think so. …I’m sure that where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s certainly not easy…but we just have to keep on trying…
Learn more and see photos on our website, birdnote.org.
Sounds of Bar-tailed Godwit provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls recorded by G.A.Keller
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org May 2011 Narrator: Mary McCann