This Tiny Bird Made One of the Longest Migrations Ever

first_img Watch: Girl Gets Hit in the Face By Bird During Roller Coaster RideWatch: Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo Has More Moves Than You This tiny bird deserves a much-needed rest: For the first time, biologists have tracked a migration of up to 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) made by the 0.42-ounce blackpoll warbler, one of the fastest declining song birds in North America.Biologists from the University of Guelph said the bird made an epic journey between its breeding grounds in the central and western boreal forest of North America and its winter home in the Amazon Basin. It’s one of the longest song bird migrations recorded.In a paper published in the journal Ecology, the researchers describe the bird’s “great circle route,” which recorded the bird arching across North America and making a transoceanic flight to South America.A blackpoll warbler outfitted with a tiny geolocating “backpack.” (Photo Credit: Vermont Centres for EcoStudies)For the study, researchers outfitted the birds with tiny geolocating “backpacks” that tracked them from four boreal forest sites across northern Canada and Alaska.Scientists had long suspected that the blackpoll warbler took this epic circle route on its annual migration, but had not yet proved it until now.“It’s amazing,” said University of Guelph Ryan Norris, who led the research team. “A bird weighing a couple of loonies [Canadian one-dollar coins] travels from the western edge of North America all the way to the Amazon basin — and, in between, traverses the Atlantic Ocean.”Total southward migration took about 60 days on average over distances ranging from 6,900 km (4,287 miles) for birds breeding in Churchill, Manitoba, to 10,700 km (6,648 miles) for populations on the western edge of the continent in Nome, Alaska, according to the researchers.Blackpolls from Nome took 18 days to fly across North America to the Atlantic coast of the Carolinas. There, the birds spent almost a month fattening up to double their body weight before a non-stop, 2 ½-day flight across open water to overwintering grounds in northern Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil.They covered between 2,250 and 3,400 km (between 1,398 and 2,112 miles) for that transoceanic hop, without stopping.According to Norris, blackpoll population numbers have fallen in recent years, perhaps caused by habitat loss and declines in insect prey related to climate change. “To understand what’s causing the decline, we need to know their full annual cycle,” he said.In the paper, the researchers say climate change may make extreme coastal weather events more frequent and more extreme, with unknown impacts on long-distance migratory birds.More on Solve the Mystery of Cassowary’s Strange HeadgearThis Bird Attracts a Mate With His Heart-Shaped Throat SacWorld’s Rarest Bird Thought to Be Extinct Gets New Home Stay on targetlast_img

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