Transoceanic migration by a 12 g songbird

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Many fundamental aspects of migration remain a mystery, largely due to our inability to follow small animals over vast spatial areas. For more than 50 years, it has been hypothesized that, during autumn migration, blackpoll warblers (Setophaga striata) depart northeastern North America and undertake a non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean to either the Greater Antilles or the northeastern coast of South America. Using miniaturized light-level geolocators, we provide the first irrefutable evidence that the blackpoll warbler, a 12 g boreal forest songbird, completes an autumn transoceanic migration ranging from 2270 to 2770 km (mean±s.d.: 2540±257) and requiring up to 3 days (62 h±10) of non-stop flight. This is one of the longest non-stop overwater flights recorded for a songbird and confirms what has long been believed to be one of the most extraordinary migratory feats on the planet.




DeLuca, W. V., Woodworth, B. K., Rimmer, C. C., Marra, P. P., Taylor, P. D., McFarland, K. P., … Norris, D. R. (2015). Transoceanic migration by a 12 g songbird. Biology Letters, 11(4).

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