February 2018 Bird Photo of the Month

A migrant just passing through © Mark J. Eden
Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)

Notice that very sharp, thin bill of this 5-inch Blackpoll Warbler, especially shaped to capture insects from leaves in the canopy of trees. Weighing 0.5 oz., about as much as a mailed letter, this Blackpoll Warbler flies from the boreal forests of Alaska and Canada where it breeds, stopping to refuel while migrating through Florida in October. It is likely to get to its migration destination, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, faster than the US post. It takes advantage of the northerly air currents to fly over the Atlantic Ocean, sometimes 1800 miles nonstop, the longest over-water journey of any songbird. On its return flight north in April, as there are no southerly winds to help its return, it takes a different route, most likely up the west coast of Florida, but still must fly across the ocean via Cuba. Birds are amazing! This species, after circumnavigating the continents, will likely find its way back to the very same tree in which it nested the previous year.

Thus, preserving this warbler from extinction requires established protective habitats, not just in the U.S. but in Canada and South America. Development in this country, and cutting both boreal and tropical forests, impacts many of our long-distance migrants. Global climate change pushes birds farther north to breed, a major problem for birds like the Blackpoll that will be pushed into tundra, where, without trees, it cannot breed. Mark J. Eden had much patience and outstanding skill in being able to find, direct his long lens, and focus on a variety of beautiful warbler and vireo visitors. In our yards, let’s plant native trees and plants to provide food/insects to give sustenance to these and other migrant warblers on their long journeys.

Juanita Baker, Coordinator
Florida Bird Photo of the Month
Pelican Island Audubon Society  

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