On this day in 1956, an Associated Press story described the findings of five decades of bird banding by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, with 7 million birds from approximately 600 species tagged.
The research effort found that "birds live as long as 26 years and travel as much as 26,000 miles a year," the AP reported.
More than 600,000 banded birds were recovered or their return to the place of banding was "noted and recorded."
Among the findings: "The arctic tern has the longest migration, extending from the Arctic to the Antarctic," according to the AP. "It travels 25,000 miles a year as it follows the sun north to south and back again."
During the banding effort, an arctic tern was banded on Cape Cod in June 1929, recaptured in 1936 and again in 1946, and found dead in July 1951--22 years after its initial banding.
In another example, a hunter in Newfoundland shot a black duck which had been banded 17 years earlier on the Cape.
Longest migration of any animal
TheNational Wildlife Federation reports that Arctic terns have the longest yearly migration of any animal in terms of distance between the start and end points. They travel from their Arctic breeding grounds to Antarctica and back—a distance of at least 25,000 miles—every year! Arctic terns often return to the same area they were hatched to breed. They are ground-nesting species, and both parents rear the young. Hatchlings stay with the parents for about three months before they venture off on their own.
Photos courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiki Commons.