The bar-tailed godwit or kuaka, its Maori name, is a migratory bird that spends the southern summers in
In 2007, the inimitable “E7”, her tag reference for satellite tracking, posted a trans-Pacific journey of 18,000-mile-long (29,000 km) series of flights tracked by satellite, including the longest non-stop flight recorded for a land bird.
E7’s Remarkable Trans-Pacific Journey
Source: US Geological
The breeding grounds in
The most remarkable flight of E7 was her return journey to
Since kuaka are land birds, they are unable to stop to eat or drink while flying over open-ocean. The constant flight speeds at which E7 was tracked by satellite indicate she did not stop on land.
On her arrival back in New Zealand, E7 touched down at a spot just 8 miles east of where she had been tagged before she started her pan-Pacific journey.
It’s estimated that over the course of a 20 year lifetime, a godwit’s migratory mileage could top 288,000 miles.
In addition to locations in the
Every southern spring, a watch is kept for the harbingers of spring on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary. Upon the first arrival, the bells of the Christchurch Cathedral are rung for 30 minutes to herald their arrival.
Upon arrival, the kuaka appear bedraggled having exhausted their fat reserves during the long journey. Their roosting colony at the Estuary is on the South Shore Spit in
The Avon-Heathcote Estuary – the godwit colony is at the southern tip of South Shore SpitIn February-March, the godwits are farewelled by residents of
Kiwis of the human kind in the far flung Kiwi diaspora around the globe might adopt the godwit or kuaka as their emblem. However far they may be from their multiple homes, they can look to this humble bird for inspiration on how to close the distance between them.