A Bird that Migrates across the Pacific

Want to be impressed by how little the birds care about our human endeavors to mark off territory and time? Meet the Dunlin.

Just now I got an email from Cornell Lab of Ornithology about a bird called Dunlin that crosses the Pacific Ocean from the shores of the Yellow Sea in Asia to breed in Alaska.

To get to its breeding grounds, it crosses the international dateline from west to east. It crosses with ease, never missing a day or or even an hour. No watch to turn backward or forward, no calendar to consult.

It moves easily from Mandarin-speaking Asians to English-speaking Americans and back, a one-way trip of four thousand miles, the video said.

America’s Arctic: Dunlin (youtube.com)

When I look at its migration route, I wonder if at one time this bird flew across the land bridge between Asia and America.


If that impresses you, spare a thought for the muttonbird, aka short-tailed shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris). They breed in southern Australia, especially around Tasmania, and migrate to Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia and to Alaska for the austral winter. Even when not migrating, a single foraging trip can cover 1,500 km.


Each austral winter, the shearwaters migrate to the seas off the Aleutian Islands and Kamchatka. In the austral spring, they travel down the coast of California before crossing the Pacific back to Australia.


Wow! that impresses me indeed.