The ultimate flights of the Great Snipes
The great snipe looks like any ordinary wading bird with a plump little body but an elegant long beak. This migratory bird has smashed the records of the whole animal kingdom by being the fastest, nonstop and long-distance flyer. In a new study, Swedish Scientists found that snipe can fly a distance of 4, 200 miles (6, 760 km) at an exceptional speed of 60 miles per hour, without taking any breaks to rest or feed.
Before the discovery, scientists had no clue where this bird would go after flying from Sweden. So, the British and Swedish researchers tagged 10 male snipes in Sweden with an electronic tracking device called ‘geolocators’. These devices weighing 1.1 gm were designed to record light intensity. Scientists recorded this data into the computer to estimate when and where they travelled.
Again in spring, the birds were found to have undergone such flights, as recorded by Dr Klaassen, lead author of study from Lund University, Sweden. Most of the birds either fly fast or far. But Great Snipes are a rare species of birds found with both the qualities. After a year, the scientists found three of them back to Sweden. The tags showed one bird flew 4, 225 miles from Sweden to Central Africa in just 3.5 days in August 2009. The other two birds managed to cover 3, 833 miles in three days and 2, 870 miles in two days. What made the flights more impressive was that it was done without the wind assistance, as cross- referred with wind records of the U.S. satellite.
The Great Spine
Great snipes are the shorebirds that are descendants of the Sandpiper family. It is small in size, 26-30 cm and brown in color. This have broad wings lacking the specific aerodynamic feature of pointed tips. It commonly feeds on earthworms and seeds of marsh plants. The breeding habitat is marshes and wet meadows in Scandinavia and Northern Russia.This species of migratory birds breed in summer in Eastern Europe and spend winters in Africa. Great Snipes are listed as Near Threatened as there is a rapid decline in its population.
The most recent and amazing characteristic about them is their no haul long distance journeys at a very fast speed. Snipes are known for their courtship, where the male display aerial moves to woo the mate. Also, the snipes lay four eggs. Out of which two chicks are taken away by male and the other two are left with the female. They have an unusual zigzag flying pattern. These birds are very mysterious and only during the mating season, these become evident.