This tiny bird just flew 2,400 km from southern Spain to Sweden at a 'spectacular' speed

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This tiny bird just flew 2,400 km from southern Spain to Sweden at a 'spectacular' speed
The willow warbler is small, but it's tough. Photo: Carlos Mompo & SEO/BirdLife
12:18 CEST+02:00
A tiny, finger-sized bird has proved that looks can be deceiving by completing a near 2,400 kilometre flight all the way from southern Spain to Sweden in just 10 days.

And it seems the journey took some effort too: the willow warbler lost weight on the way, starting out at 8.9 grams when it left Grosa island in Murcia, south-east Spain, then weighing in at 8.5 grams when it arrived in Swedish island Nidingen, just south of Gothenburg.

SEO/BirdLife (the Spanish Ornithology Society) described the speed of the bird's journey as “spectacular”. It was tagged in southern Spain in May as part of the Europe-wide "Piccole Issole" project, which studies islands in the Mediterranean in order to follow migratory patterns among birds.

The same bird was then discovered alive, only 10 days later, on Nidingen.


2,367 kilometres as the crow – or willow warbler – flies. Photo: Google Maps

"Thanks to coordinated tagging campaigns like this, to the efforts of thousands of volunteers across the world, we can end up discovering stories as spectacular as this one," SEO/BirdLife biologist Arantza Leal said in a statement.

Tracking their journeys can help us to understand "the migration process" as well as the zones important to birds for breeding and migration, and their "spectacular migration speeds" she added.

SEO/BirdLife explained that the birds migrate twice a year: once in spring to breed, and once in autumn in order to return to their winter areas. Autumn is the busiest migration period as young birds born earlier in the year join the adults.

The willow warbler isn't the only bird capable of impressive aerial feats. Last year, Swedish scientists discovered that a common swift was capable of flying for ten months on end without landing, the longest time spent aloft of any known bird.

READ ALSO: This tiny bird can fly for ten months straight

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