The Incredible Journey Of New England's Blackpoll Warblers

Download Audio
A blackpoll warbler in Pennsylvania, October 2013  (flickr/Kelly Colgan Azar)
A blackpoll warbler in Pennsylvania, October 2013 (flickr/Kelly Colgan Azar)

Blackpoll warblers may be the planet's ultimate endurance athletes. Why? Because UMass researchers have just found that they fly nonstop for three straight days — from the New England coast, 1,700 miles to Puerto Rico each fall.


William Deluca, research fellow in the Landscape Ecology Lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


The Boston Globe: Tiny Blackpoll Warblers Make Mind-Boggling Migration

  • "The slight birds, which typically weigh a little more than two quarters, accomplish this seemingly impossible feat by fattening up preflight, in some cases nearly doubling their body weight."

Biology Letters: Transoceanic Migration By A 12g Songbird

  • "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  and requiring up to 3 days 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."

This segment aired on April 2, 2015.


More from Radio Boston

Listen Live