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An Incredible Journey

By Sarah Diaz for the Island Eye News

Blackpoll Warbler

The blackpoll warbler is a small migratory warbler that completes an incredible journey twice each year. These neotropical migrants fly between their breeding grounds in Northern Canada and Alaska to their wintering grounds in South America. The distance between their breeding and wintering grounds can be as much as 5,000 miles.

For this tiny warbler to fly thousands of miles in roughly six to eight weeks, it must double in weight before it embarks.

One leg of their route is especially dangerous: Many blackpolls fly for 80+ hours nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean.

This adult male Blackpoll Warbler banded and released on Sullivan’s Island was on the thinner side. It weighed a mere 10.6g (0.37 ounces). This bird made a quick pit stop in the protected land to forage and gain much-needed fat reserves to complete its journey to Canada. Coastal stopover locations are crucial to a variety of migrating birds, such as warblers, flycatchers and thrushes.

The Sullivan’s Island Bird Banding Station has put normal operations on hold due to the current situation with COVID-19. You can contact Sarah Díaz at

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