Feathered Frequent Flyers Set Records Skip to content

Feathered Frequent Flyers Set Records

Many frequent flyers have a lot of information collected about them, some of which turns out to be quite surprising. The flyers in question are banded birds.

Since the year 1921, close to 681,000 birds of 154 species have been banded in Iceland, according to the website of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.

Almost 12,600 birds of 77 species were banded by the Institute last year. That’s a little below the annual average of the past decade.

Since birds were first marked in Iceland, more than 55,000 of them have been retrieved. Last year, unusually many birds were found again, or 2,365. Of those, 154 were found abroad. An Icelandic age record was broken in August of 2015 when a dead gannet was retrieved in the Orkney Islands, which had been banded as a chick in Eldey island in 1982. Thus, it reached the age of 33. The European record among gannets still belongs to a British bird, which survived for 37 years and five months.

And those of you who saw the award-winning Rams (Hrútar), filmed in Bárðardalur valley, North Iceland, may be interested to learn that a whooping swan found in that valley in May of last year may well be the oldest of its kind in Europe. It was, at the time, 28 years and eight months old.

Finally, an arctic tern, banded in Höfn, Hornafjörður, in 2013, before it had even learned to fly, was discovered near exhaustion in October of last year by Cape Town, South Africa, no less than 11,319 km ( 7,033 miles) from Höfn.

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