This month’s organism, the Bristle-Thighed Curlew, called Te'ue in Tahitian, is a unique shorebird that stands out for some surprising behaviors.
Of all of the unique traits the Bristle-Thighed Curlews possess, having one of the longest nonstop migration flights of all known birds is the most remarkable. With a travel distance of an astounding 2,500 to 3,700 miles (4,000 to 6,000 km) to and from their breeding and wintering habitats, adult Bristle-Thighed Curlews log up to 7,500 miles (12,000 km) yearly.
The Bristle-Thighed Curlews breed in Alaska and are the only shore birds that winter exclusively on islands and atolls in Oceania. They are also the only shorebirds that have adapted the use of tools in foraging behaviors, and the only birds to become flightless during molt.
During molting, roughly half of the population is unable to fly, leaving them vulnerable to invasive predators such as rats. The Bristle-Thighed Curlews that overwinter on Tetiaroa will benefit greatly from the upcoming rat eradication.