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To the Moon and Back

By Linda Tancs

The shorebird Rufa red knot pursues an annual migration that, over the course of an average 13-year lifespan, represents a journey to the moon and back.  Well, almost.  The average distance to the moon is 237,000 miles; the average red knot will have traveled over 194,000 miles over a lifetime–breeding in the central Canadian Arctic and wintering in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, an exodus of roughly 14,950 miles each year.  But of course there are outliers.  Like the so-called Moonbird, calculated to be at least 21 years young and to have traveled a whopping 400,000 miles.  And that’s no April Fool’s joke.  Undoubtedly, Moonbird is the king of long-range fliers in the avian world.

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