Three Birds Fly Over 3,700 Miles Without Stopping

three great snipes photo
Photo: aigledayres / cc

In what seems like the storyline from an awesome buddy-film, researchers from Sweden have recorded one of the most remarkable road air-trips ever seen in nature -- three birds together on a non-stop, 3,728 mile, shotgun-style journey from Sweden to Africa. Over the course of about three days, the trio of Great Snipes maintained an average speed of 43 mph, flying over the European mainland all the way to Nigeria without taking a single break. The epic trip not only breaks records, it's prompting experts to seriously reexamine "what these birds are capable of."According Åke Lindström, professor of ecology at Lund University, no other cases exist of animals traveling such a great distance so quickly. Typically, birds on long-distance journeys will break up the flight with stopovers along the way -- but researchers are learning that the behavior isn't quite as necessary for the animals as once believed.

A report from Sweden's The Local outlines the birds' big trip:

The three birds were Great Snipes, indigenous to north Eastern Europe and north Western Russia.

They started their autumn migration from lake Ånnsjön near the popular Swedish ski resort Åre, in August 2009.

Their journey went through half of Sweden, through mainland Europe, the Sahara desert and was concluded in Nigeria in West Africa.

After stopping-over in Nigeria, however, their journey continued a bit longer, on to the rainforests of the Congo -- yet another twist in an already assumption-shattering excursion. "We didn't expect the Congo at all," says Lindström. "It will be exciting to see what they get up to there."

Then, after about a month and half in the warm tropical climes the three birds from Sweden turned around and headed back home, only this time they made a few stops along the way -- but it's hard to blame them for taking their time. After all, it's always hard to hurry home when it means the vacation is over.

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