Migrating birds often complete long non–stop flights during which body energy stores exclusively support energetic demands. The metabolic correlates of such long–distance travel in free–living migrants are as yet poorly studied. Bar–tailed godwits, Limosa lapponica taymyrensis, undertake a 4500 km flight to their single spring stopover site and thus provide an excellent model in which to determine the energy fuels associated with endurance travel. To this end, we evaluated plasma concentrations of six key metabolites in arriving godwits caught immediately upon landing near their stopover site. Initial metabolite levels were compared with levels after 5 h of inactive rest to determine how flight per se affects energy metabolism. Birds refuelling on the stopover site were also examined. Arriving godwits displayed elevated plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and butyrate, confirming the importance of lipid fuel in the support of extended migratory activity. Furthermore, elevated plasma triglycerides in these birds suggest that fatty acid provisioning is facilitated through hepatic synthesis and release of neutral lipids, as previously hypothesized for small migrants with high mass–specific metabolic rates. Finally, elevations in plasma uric acid suggest that protein breakdown contributes to the support of long–distance movement, to possibly maintain citric acid cycle intermediates, gluconeogenesis and/or water balance.