Thursday, January 8, 2009
Which wood-warbler travels the longest migration route?
Thanks for the question, David in Studwell, MN.
The answer: Blackpoll
Autumn studies of the routes south-traveling Blackpoll take have been extensive. Through banding at stations where the same individual has been studied, researchers have determined some Blackpolls travel more than 5,000 miles one way from Alaska to Brazil.
For many Blackpoll migrating populations, migration occurs over the Atlantic Ocean from the northeastern United States to Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, or northern South America.
This route averages 1,500-2,000 miles over water, necessitating a potentially non-stop flight of up to 88 hours. To complete this migration feat, many Blackpolls nearly double their body mass and prefer to take advantage of a shift in prevailing wind direction to direct them to their destination.