Wood Thrushes

Wood Thrushes, Blackpolls and Windows

Later this month the Smithsonian Wood Thrush researcher will be returning to the St. Croix River Valley to relocate 25 gps-geotagged thrushes. These tiny Neotropical migrants travel over 3,000 miles twice a year on their spring and fall migrations. Already one geo-locator has been removed from a returning thrush that was captured during a routine banding session at Warner Nature Center. Wood Thrush populations have been declining by about 2% a year since the 60’s. This partnership research project aims to pinpoint where the thrush spend their winters, which will help when developing a species conservation plan.

In similar news, researchers have finally documented the INCREDIBLE journey that the tiny Blackpoll Warbler makes every year. Instead of migrating across land from northern Canada to Venezuela and Columbia, these small birds leave northeastern US and Canada and make a 1,400-1,721 mile non-stop flight across the ocean to arrive exhausted in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Greater Antilles. And they only weight 12-13 grams. One of the researchers is quoted as saying “There is no longer any doubt that the blackpoll undertakes one of the most audacious migrations of any bird on earth.” To read more about the Blackpoll research visit The Boston Globe.

In late May I found a Wood Thrush dead outside a strip mall window in Hastings. This bird had traveled all the way to Costa Rica, or Mexico, and back, only to break its neck trying to reach the tree reflected in the store window. Neotropical migrants depend on safe winter and summer habitats, as well as critical migratory stop-over points in between. One of those stop-overs could be YOUR backyard. This June, as you clean your windows and fill your bird feeders, take a moment to evaluate your own backyard habitat. Can you plant more native species which can better feed and shelter native insects and animals? Can you modify your windows to keep birds from killing themselves in the reflective glass? Many window suppliers offer windows with screens on outside, such as those by Andersen Windows on Carpenter Nature Center’s Administration Building. For windows that don’t have external screens, the American Bird Conservancy makes window tape. Stop by this summer as we add the tape to more of the non-screened windows. Together we can make a difference for our songbirds.