Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bay-breasted Warbler

On 21 May, I banded this female Bay-breasted Warbler in Northfield, Minnesota. I have seen this species here in Rice County in the spring, but, in Minnesota, during the spring migration, this is the first one I’ve banded. I have ringed this species many times in the fall. Elsewhere in this blog, I shared a photograph of the strikingly gorgeous spring male that I once banded in South Dakota. The female is more subtly plumaged, but no less beautiful.

The species breeds across much of northeastern and north-central Canada and parts of the adjacent United States. Breeding numbers depend on the abundance of spruce budworms. Wintering grounds are in northern South America and southern Central America. The warbler is a nocturnal, trans-Gulf migrant. The migration covers much of the eastern United States, although it rarely crosses the Southeast.

My paucity of spring banding records set me to wonder if spring and fall Bay-breasted Warbler migration routes might differ. A careful reading of Venier et al (2011) indicates that, although young fall birds may migrate further east than do adults, the overall spring and fall paths do not differ. Apparently this warbler is a late spring migrant. This timing results in a quicker migration, with shorter stopover times as the birds head north. Fall migrants must travel a bit more leisurely, giving banders more opportunity to catch birds. 

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