Which bird migrates the furthest?

Many birds undertake long journeys, but one species outflies the rest

Animals migrate to find food and breeding grounds, or to escape from harsh weather conditions. From butterflies to humpback whales, there are always animals on the move, but birds are arguably the most famous migrators.

Of all the birds travelling the globe, the Arctic tern makes the longest journey, clocking up an astounding 40,000 kilometres (24,000 miles) each year. Flying from its breeding grounds in Greenland Arctic to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica and back again, the tern undertakes a pole-to-pole migration that’s the same length as the earth’s circumference.

Following summer between the poles, this elegant and athletic seabird spends more time in daylight than any other bird. It can live for 25 years, so over the course of its sun-chasing life the Arctic tern will fly a million kilometres (620,000 miles) – almost three times the distance from here to the moon.


Photo: Lisa Hupp/USFWS/flickr