Dunlins: Long-distance migrants

In this blog post we'd like to introduce to an animal which is less known for its majestic size, its unique shape or beautiful colours – what makes this bird stand out is its physical achievements. Learn more


The young birds are not fully grown when their parents leave, but they join the adult birds one to two months later and together they feast in the Wadden Sea which is very rich in food. The young dunlins then double their weight to 100 or 120 g in a few weeks to have enough energy reserves for the long journey to their winter escape in north and west Africa. With the use of ring and radio tags scientists were able to measure that the birds travel without resting over a couple of days from the Wadden Sea to their winter habitat in Africa. When they arrive, they are back to their original weight and by the end of winter, the dunlins fly back to their nesting habitat with a short break in their resting habitat, then the cycle starts over again. In this way, millions of birds migrate ten thousand of kilometers each year.


By the way: The arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) travels the longest distance. From their nesting habitat in the arctic the birds travel for around 30,000 km to their winter habitat in the Antarctica – almost one loop around the earth.
The dunlins are the species among the migratory birds which are affected a lot by the impacts of global warming because its natural habitat is slowly vanishing. Another threat for the migratory birds is the disturbance in their rest and winter habitats through human activities such as catching the birds. To protect the dunlin and other migratory birds it is important to secure the nesting as well as resting and winter habitats and enable a safe migration for the birds. Natucate offers several birding courses which inform about the different protection methods for migratory birds and about the bird migration in general.

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