Geolocators reveal varied migration routes of Prothonotary Warblers

This male Prothonotary Warbler, nicknamed Long Shot, flew from South Carolina to Colombia and back. Photo by Joan Eckhardt
This male Prothonotary Warbler, nicknamed Long Shot, flew from South Carolina to Colombia and back. Photo by Joan Eckhardt

The wintering grounds of Long Shot, the only Prothonotary Warbler from South Carolina’s Francis Beidler Forest to receive a light-level geolocator in 2014, have finally been revealed. Author Mac Stone described the bird, pictured here, in the cover story of our August 2015 issue.

According to biologist Matt Johnson, the warbler flew southwest to the Florida Panhandle in late August 2014, then crossed the Gulf to Cuba in mid-September. It later flew to Central America and arrived at its wintering site in southwestern Colombia in mid- to late October. The bird’s geolocator failed in February, so its return route is unknown, but it arrived back at Beidler in late March.

A second warbler, outfitted with a geolocator in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, crossed the Gulf of Mexico in August 2014, landing in Mexico, reports Jared Wolfe, of the U.S. Forest Service’s Redwood Sciences Laboratory, and Erik Johnson, of Audubon Louisiana. Over the next three months, it went east to the Yucatan Peninsula, then to southern Cuba or Jamaica, before completing its migration in mid-November in southeastern Panama or northwestern Colombia.

On March 4, 2015, it departed, flying northwest through Central America and Mexico in just 18 days. On March 22, it traversed the Gulf from the Yucatan and arrived back in Baton Rouge the next day.

Three amazing facts about Prothonotary Warbler and a citizen-science project you can join.

Flashes of gold and blue: Seven photos of Prothonotary Warbler.

See more photos of Prothonotary Warbler.

 

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