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Blackpoll Warblers make one of the longest migrations taken by a songbird in the world. Blackpoll Warblers that breed in Alaska fly southeast in the fall, appearing throughout the Midwest and eastern U.S. on their way to the Atlantic Coast. Then, they make a nonstop flight over the water to reach South America. Scientists uncovered the stranger-than-fiction details of Blackpoll Warbler migration thanks to a tool called a light-level geolocator, which uses day length to figure out where a bird traveled.
From Alaska to Omaha, Then on to Brazil
Written by Conor Gearin
This is BirdNote.
[City park soundscape]
[Blackpoll Warbler calls]
Hopping about a city park in Omaha, Nebraska, this male Blackpoll Warbler lets on little of the astonishing journeys he makes. He’s a few thousands miles into one of the longest migrations taken by a songbird in the world. It began in Alaska, where the warbler found a mate. Now traveling southeast for the winter, he stopped in a convenient urban green space to refuel for the next leg.
Once he reaches the East Coast, he’ll take off on a nonstop flight over the water to reach the shores of South America.
[Wind and waves]
Finally, he’ll make his way to his wintering grounds in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil.
[Amazon rainforest soundscape]
Scientists revealed the stranger-than-fiction details of Blackpoll Warbler migration thanks to a tool called a light-level geolocator. It’s placed on the birds like a backpack, and it’s tiny enough to not affect their flight. The device records the times of sunrise and sunset every day. Scientists can use that info to calculate the GPS coordinates of the bird’s migratory journey.
Find out how birds connect where you live to other countries and continents on the National Audubon Society’s online Bird Migration Explorer. Learn more at BirdNote dot org. I’m Michael Stein.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Editor: Jazzi Johnson
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Content Director: Jonese Franklin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Carolina Wren ML349102441 recorded by Eric Bents, Blackpoll Warbler ML175737161 recorded by Brad Walker, and Environmental ML249326 recorded by Tom Schulenberg.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2023 BirdNote October 2023
Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# BLPW-02-2023-10-14 BLPW-02