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Wrong-way Kingbird

Ornithologists think a glitch in a gene that controls migration in Tropical Kingbirds causes them to fly in exactly the wrong direction. From their Arizona breeding grounds, they head northwest in fall, rather than southeast to their usual wintering haunts in Mexico. Learn more at Cornell's AllAboutBirds.org.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®

Wrong-way Kingbird – Tropical Kingbird

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote!
[Tropical Kingbird calls]
This is a sound Northwesterners are not used to hearing. It’s a Tropical Kingbird.
[Tropical Kingbird calls]
A bird of this species visited Magnuson Park in Seattle in November, 2006. It thrilled local birders with its presence for nine days, then disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared. Tropical Kingbirds are seen almost every year somewhere in Washington, but this was the first sighting for King County. [Tropical Kingbird calls]
Most Tropical Kingbirds turn up on the outer coast of the Pacific Northwest in late autumn. Ornithologists think a glitch in a gene that controls migration in these birds causes them to fly in exactly the wrong direction. From their Arizona breeding grounds, they head northwest in fall, rather than southeast to their usual wintering haunts in Mexico. These wrong-way birds hit the Pacific coast and slowly make their way northward to conditions ever poorer for the flying insects they eat.
[Tropical Kingbird calls]
A bird out of its normal range always brings excitement to birders. But no matter how exciting, we can only hope that birds that wander in the wrong direction eventually find their way home.
When you visit our web site, BirdNote.org, you can see a photo of the Tropical Kingbird that visited Magnuson Park. For Seattle Audubon and your local Audubon, I’m Frank Corrado.
###

Tropical Kingbird recorded at Magnuson Park, Seattle (November 2006) by Martyn Stewart, naturesound.org
Ambient audio by Kessler Productions
Producer:  John Kessler
© 2007 Seattle Audubon

ID# 020507TRKIKPLU

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