The Blackpoll Warbler is a New World warbler. It is a fairly small bird that weighs about 12 grams.
The summer male warblers have dark streaked brown backs, white faces an black crowns. Their under-parts are white with black streaks and they display two white wing bars. The adult females essentially resemble washed-out versions of the summer males, and in particular, the females lack the strong head patterns, and their crowns and faces are shades of grey. Another outstanding physical characteristic of the species are the “BRIGHT ORANGE-PINK LEGS” Non-breeding birds, of this species, have greenish heads, dark-streaked greenish upper-parts and yellowish breasts, with the yellow extending to the belly in young birds. Their wing bars are always present.
It breeds in forests of northern North America, from Alaska through most of Canada, the Great Lakes region and New England. Although fairly large for a warbler, blackpoll warblers are easy to miss because of their relatively inactive foraging style and tendency to perch in dense foliage near the canopy of the trees. They are more often heard than seen, though their song is one of the “highest pitched” known. Their songs are simple repetitions of high “tsi” notes. Their calls are thin “sits”.
They are primarily insectivorous, prying on a great diversity of adult and larval insects and spiders. Documented insect prey for the species includes, lice, ants, termites, canker-worms, sawflies, gnats, aphids, web-worms, mosquitoes and locusts. The blackpoll warbler will opt for berries in migration and during winter. They often forage high in trees and sometimes catch insects “while in flight”.
Their breeding habitats are coniferous woodlands especially those in which spruce trees grow. They commonly nest in a relatively low site of a conifer. They lay 3-5 eggs in a “cup-shaped” nest. The eggs are incubated for about 12 days and the young leave the nest when they are only 10 days old, before they can fly well. Their parents feed them for a total of around 2 weeks.
The Blackpoll Warbler’s TRANSOCEANIC FLIGHT has been the subject of over 25 scientific studies. Blackpoll Warblers have the longest migration route of any species of the New World Warbler. To accomplish this flight, the blackpoll warbler nearly doubles its body mass in staging areas and takes advantage of a shift in prevailing wind direction to direct it to its destination. —— When they fly southward, over the Atlantic, they burn 0.08g of fat every hour. This route averages 3,000km over water, requiring a potentially NON-STOP FLIGHT of around 72-88hrs. They travel at a speed of about 27mph.
Come the first signs of winter, the blackpoll warbler takes flight from its home in the forests near the north-eastern coast of the US & Canada. Three days later, the birds arrive in the Caribbean after a non-stop southwards flight over the western part of the Atlantic Ocean. Depending on the starting point, the total journey can be as long as 2,770km, and that is “NO MEAN FEAT IF YOU WEIGH ONLY 12 GRAMS.” It is one of the “MOST EXTRAORDINARY MIGRATORY FEATS ON THE PLANET.” Thus the sobriquet ———– SMALL WONDER.