Migratory Songbird Ecology

For more than 50 years, scientists had tantalizing clues suggesting that a tiny, boreal forest songbird, the blackpoll warbler, departs each fall from New England and eastern Canada to migrate nonstop in a direct line over the Atlantic Ocean toward South America, but proof was hard to come by.

Thanks to archival light geolocators, we are able to begin to piece together the incredible migration of one of the fastest declining songbirds in North America, the blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata).

Our paper in Biology Letters first documented this migration for two eastern sites in Vermont and Nova Scotia. Here me talk more about this exciting research on PRI's Science Friday and Boston's NPR station WBUR.  Over the past few years we have begun to track birds across the boreal forest: Churchill, MB; Whitehorse, YT; Denali, AK; Nome, AK. Keep an eye for the results of this work in the near future.

Lila Tauzer extracts a blackpoll warbler with a geolocator from a net in 2017 near Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The bird was fitted with the geolocator the previous year which was used to track its migratory movements throughout the annual cycle.

William V. DeLuca, Ph.D.

Research Fellow, Adjunct Assistant Professor

Department of Environmental Conservation

University of Massachusetts

Northeast Climate Science Center

wdeluca (at) eco.umass.edu

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