Little songbirds cover more than 300 miles a day on their annual migrations, flabbergasting researchers who expected a much slower flight. For the first time, scientists were able to outfit tiny birds with geolocators and track their travel between North America and the tropics, something only done previously with large birds such as geese.
New tracking equipment, weighing only a little more than a paper clip, is now allowing the tracking of purple martins and wood thrushes, researchers report…
“We were flabbergasted by the birds’ spring return times. To have a bird leave Brazil on April 12 and be home by the end of the month was just astounding. We always assumed they left sometime in March,” said Bridget Stutchbury, a professor of biology.
The purple martins migrated to the Amazon basin in Brazil for the winter, while the wood thrushes wintered in a narrow band of Nicaragua and Honduras. Some of the birds took pauses along the way, spending a few days in the southeastern United States or in Mexico’s Yucatan area.
Stutchbury said she initially worried that the tracking devices would slow down the little birds, “but those worries kind of ceased when I looked at their spring migration speeds.”
Look! Up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman! Nope – it’s a very fast wee bird.