Travelers

Some animals and birds make seasonal migrations in search of better feeding or breeding grounds, however, some species are true travelers and perform incredibly long journeys. Let's see whose migrations are more impressive.

Arctic Tern
Arctic terns are seabirds famous for their migration. They fly from their Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year, the shortest distance between these areas being 19,000 km (12,000 mi). The long journey ensures that these birds see two summers per year and more daylight than any other creature on the planet. The average Arctic tern lives about 30 years, and will, based on the research, travel some 2.4 million km (1.5 ...
million mi) during its lifetime, the equivalent of a roundtrip from Earth to the Moon over 3 times.
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Blue Wildebeest
Blue wildebeest are large antelope known for their long-distance migration, timed to coincide with the annual pattern of rainfall and grass growth on the volcanic soil short-grass plains, where they can find the nutrient-rich forage necessary for lactation and calf growth. These extremely agile and wary animals can run at speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph). The timing of the migration in both directions can vary considerably from year to year. At the ...
end of the rainy season, they migrate to dry-season areas in response to a lack of drinking water. When the rainy season begins again a few months later, Blue wildebeest trek back to their wet-season range. Many long-distance migratory populations of wildebeest existed 100 years ago, but currently, all but three migrations (Serengeti, Tarangire, and Kafue) have been disrupted, cut off, and lost.
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Plains Zebra
The Plains zebra is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. They generally live in treeless grasslands and savanna woodlands and they seldom wander 10-12 km (6.2-7.5 mi) from a water source. Depending on the population, zebra herds may be sedentary, or migratory. Every year they migrate to better watered areas, often together with Blue wildebeests. This is one of the most dramatic and outstanding phenomenas around the ...
globe. Plains zebras have been recorded traveling 500 km (310 mi) between Namibia and Botswana, the longest land migration of mammals in Africa. When migrating, they appear to rely on some memory of the locations where foraging conditions were best and may predict conditions months after their arrival.
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Humpback Whale
The Humpback whale is one of the larger baleen whales, with adults ranging in length from 12-16 m (39-52 ft). It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers. Found in oceans and seas around the world, Humpbacks typically migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) each year. They feed in polar waters and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth, fasting and living off ...
their fat reserves. Like other large whales, Humpbacks were a target for the whaling industry and were once hunted to the brink of extinction. Their numbers have partially recovered, however, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution continue to affect these beautiful creatures.
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Bar-Headed Goose
Bar-headed geese are far distant travelers that breed in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes and winter in South Asia. These birds are known for the extreme altitudes they reach when migrating across the Himalayas. The challenging northward migration is undertaken in stages, with the flight across the Himalaya being undertaken non-stop in as little as 7 hours. Surprisingly, despite predictable tail winds that blow up the ...
Himalayas (in the same direction of travel as the geese), Bar-headed geese spurn these winds, waiting for them to die down overnight, when they then undertake the greatest rates of climbing flight ever recorded for a bird, and sustain these climbs rates for hours on end, according to research published in 2011.
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Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous hummingbirds are small birds known for their extraordinary flight skills. They travel over 2,000 mi (3,200 km) during their migratory transits by an overland route from its nearest summer home - a prodigious journey for a bird weighing only 3 to 4 g. Rufous hummingbirds migrate through the Rocky Mountains and nearby lowlands from May to September to take advantage of the wildflower season. They may stay in one local region for the entire ...
summer, in which case the migrants, like breeding birds, often aggressively take over and defend feeding locations. Interestingly, adult male Rufous hummingbirds usually migrate slightly earlier than females or young.
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Reindeer
Reindeer or caribou live in cold regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America and are well known for their long migrations. Within their native range, some populations are residents while others form large herds and undertake lengthy seasonal migrations from birthing grounds to summer and winter feeding grounds in the tundra and taiga. The migrations of these herds are among the longest of any mammal, traveling up to 5,000 km (3,000 ...
mi) a year, and covering 1,000,000 km2 (400,000 sq mi)! Normally traveling about 19-55 km (12-34 mi) a day while migrating, reindeer can run at speeds of 60-80 km/h (37-50 mph). Young individuals can already outrun an Olympic sprinter when only a day old. During the spring migration, smaller herds will group together to form larger herds of 50,000 to 500,000 animals, but during autumn migrations the groups become smaller and reindeer begin to mate. These travelers can also swim easily and quickly, normally at about 6.5 km/h (4 mph) but, if necessary, at 10 km/h (6 mph) and migrating herds will not hesitate to swim across a large lake or broad river.
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Bar-Tailed Godwit
The Bar-tailed godwit is a large wader whose migration across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird, and also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal. All Bar-tailed godwits spend the Northern Hemisphere summer in the Arctic, where they breed and make a long-distance migration south in winter to more temperate areas. The round-trip migration for these flying champions is ...
over 29,000 km (18,020 mi).
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Red Knot
Red knots have one of the longest migrations of any bird. Every year they travel more than 9,000 mi (14,000 km) from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America and repeat the trip in reverse. These birds rely heavily on the same stopping sites each year along their migratory routes to refuel their bodies in order to complete their migrations to and from breeding sites. Red knots undergo various physiological changes before their migration ...
to account for the physical demand of the long expedition and they arrive at stopover sites extremely thin.
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Springbok
The springbok is the national animal of South Africa. In earlier times, large populations of springbok roamed the Kalahari desert and the Karoo, millions of migrating springbok formed herds hundreds of kilometers long that could take several days to pass a town. These mass treks, known as trekbokking in Afrikaans, took place during long periods of drought. Herds could efficiently retrace their paths to their territories after long migrations. ...
Trekbokking is still observed occasionally in Botswana, though on a much smaller scale than earlier.
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Broad-Winged Hawk
Broad-winged hawks are raptors widely distributed in the Americas. In some areas of their range, these birds are residents while other populations migrate south to winter in the Neotropics from Mexico south to southern Brazil. Those Broad-winged hawks that do migrate fly in flocks of more than 40 up to several thousand at heights from 550 to 1,300 m (1,800 to 4,270 ft). They soar using thermals to carry them through their journey of 3,000-6,000 ...
km (1,900-3,700 mi). Fall migration lasts for 70 days as birds migrate about 100 km (62 mi) per day from North America, through Central America to South America without crossing saltwater. The enormous flocks of soaring Broad-winged hawks are termed 'kettles' and are characteristic of many hawk migration spectacles in North America, such as at Hawk Cliff in Ontario, Hawk Ridge in Minnesota, Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, and the River of Raptors in Veracruz.
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Atlantic Puffin
Atlantic puffins are sturdily built seabirds of the colder waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. They are often called "clowns of the sea" and "sea parrots" due to their striking appearance, large colorful bills, waddling gait, and behavior. Like many seabirds, Atlantic puffins spend most of the year far from land in the open ocean and only visit coastal areas at the start of the breeding season in late spring. They nest in clifftop colonies, ...
digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid. When their chicks fledge at about 6 weeks they make their way at night to the sea. They swim away from the shore and do not return to land for several years.
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White Stork
White storks are long-distance migrants that winter in Africa, or on the Indian subcontinent. When migrating between Europe and Africa, they avoid crossing the Mediterranean Sea, because the air thermals on which they depend for soaring do not form over water. White storks rely on the uplift of air thermals to soar and glide the long distances of their annual migrations and tend to avoid prolonged energetic wing flapping to save energy. Thus, ...
flocks spiral upwards on rising warm air until they emerge at the top, up to 1,200-1,500 m (3,900-4,900 ft) above the ground. On the wintering grounds, White storks congregate in large flocks which may exceed a thousand individuals. In spring, the birds return north and arrive back in Europe around late March and April, after an average journey of 49 days.
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Corsac Fox
Corsac foxes inhabit open grassy steppes and semideserts in Central Asia. As an adaption to the arid climate in which they live, Corsac foxes can forego food and water for extended periods of time. Because they cannot hunt in deep snow, these foxes either shelter in dens during harsh weather, or, in the northern parts of their range, they migrate up to 600 km (370 mi) south in the winter. Corsac foxes may even follow herds of local antelope, ...
relying on them to compress the snow as they pass.
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Canada Goose
Canada geese are known for their seasonal migrations and the calls overhead from large groups of these birds flying in a V-shaped formation always signal the transitions into spring and autumn. Most Canada geese have staging or resting areas where they join up with others. The early migrants have a tendency to spend less time at rest stops and go through the migration much faster. The later birds usually spend more time at rest stops. Some geese ...
return to the same nesting ground year after year and lay eggs with their mate, raising them, in the same way, each year. Canada geese typically fly with an altitude of 1 km (3,280 feet) for migration flight; and although their maximum flight ceiling is unknown, they have been reported to fly at 9 km (29,000 feet).
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