Sunday, 1 September 2013


Knot. Jan van de Kam.

The bird in the photograph above is one truly amazing creature, it is one of six sub-species of Knot the rufa which breed in the tundras of Greenland, Europe, and Russia. This species is well known for its lengthy migratory journey which can stretch from the bays of Tierra Del Fuego to the Canadian Arctic where they breed. They attempt this incredible journey in large sections sometimes flying for days without eating or sleeping for up to 5,000 miles in a single stage but do have stopover points where they gorge themselves on local prey. These stopover sites have to be teeming with food or the birds won't be able to pile on enough fat to produce the energy needed for the next leg of their flight.

This bird is one of a group of Knot numbering 850 individuals which were banded at Tierra Del Fuego in 1995 in the hope of discovering why these birds flew so far each year, and in this group a bird was marked as B95, he already was in adult plumage making him at least 3 years old. He was captured 6 years later in 2001, sighted in 2003, and re-captured again in 2007, the last time I heard of him was in May 2012. 

The 4 ounce marathoner B95 has become the most famous shorebird in the world. This bird has been blessed with a string of extraordinary characteristics, those of physical toughness, navigational skills, judgement, and good luck. In his almost 20 years of life 80% of the Knot population has disappeared, but not only has B95 survived, he has flown more than 325,000 miles - the distance to the moon and half way back from it - which earns him the most fitting of nicknames....Moonbird.

Moonbird Phillip Hoose

'B95 can feel it: a stirring in his bones and feathers. It’s time, today is the day he will once again cast himself into the air, spiral upward into the clouds, and bank into the wind'.

There are 117 species of shorebirds native to the Western Hemisphere, some of these shorebirds - including the Knot - are amongst the greatest migratory animals on the planet, worryingly, not a single North American shorebird species is included in the list of 'Not at Risk'.


Adam said...

cool moonbird

Findlay Wilde said...

Using the distance to the moon really shows just how far a bird like that can fly in it's lifetime. From Findlay

Warren Baker said...

Fascinating stuff Pete, great read ;-)

Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. I never cease to be amazed by the outstanding feats of endurance and performance of our feathered friends.The knot is one of the great long distance travellers and B95 deserves to be the most famous shorebird in the world. Thanks for all the amazing facts about this particular bird.

Pete Woodruff said...

Adam/Findlay/Warren/Brian....Pleased you all recognised and appreciated this amazing bird, and for visiting Birds2blog.