Thursday, May 24, 2018

Warbler Guy: Is the Yellow-Breasted Chat still a wood-warbler? Or did it get “kicked out” of its family? Why is the chat a wood-warbler?

Thanks for the question, Mary.

After many years of debate, the AOS (American Ornithological Society) in 2017 moved the yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) to the Icteriidae. It is the only member of this family.

As you may know, this seven-inch songbird was once a member of the New World warbler family (Parulidae)

The reorganization does not end the controversy among researchers. Several still believe blood analysis suggests the chat should remain in the Parulidae.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Warbler Guy, does the spring Blackpoll Warbler migration distance equal its long distance trek in the fall?

Yes, Amy (in Baton Rouge), for some populations, Blackpoll’s north and southward migration routes are likely the longest of all wood-warbler family members. 

In the spring, populations travel north over the Gulf of Mexico before reaching the USA. Some eventually reach as far north as Alaska where they nest.

The well-noted 2,150 autumn migration distance some New England Blackpoll partake in the autumn as trans-ocean migrants is a breathtaking marvel. 

Seventy-two to 90 continuous hours of migration over the ocean by a half-ounce bird seems an impossible feat. But imagine the current spring-time migrants (see graphic, courtesy of the and the map created by eNature, which is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts). Some travel 100-150 miles per night, with some doing so for weeks and eventually reaching Alaska after beginning their path in n. South America. Equally awe-inspiring, correct?