Or perhaps this bird forgot to turn off his 'cruise control' returning
from sub-Sahara Africa, overshooting Greenland or the Canadian Arctic?
They seem capable of flying tremendous distances, as demonstrated by a
2012 study: "...our results provide the first incontrovertible evidence
that a migratory songbird regularly travels between Arctic regions of
the Western Hemisphere and Africa. Scaled for body size, this is the one
of the longest round-trip migratory journeys of any bird in the world
and raises questions about how a bird of this size is able to
successfully undertake such physically demanding journeys twice each
year, particularly for inexperienced juveniles migrating on their own."
Some Upper Valley scientists (and others) have reported seeing them
flying /over/ the Greenland Ice Cap (3,000+ m elevation) during Spring
migration, one of only a few species observed to do so.
Whatever this WRJ bird's story, one can't help but feel humbled - even
honored - by his presence here!
Bairlein, F. and others, 2012. Cross-hemisphere migration of a 25 g
songbird. Biol. Lett. 8, 505--507. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.1223
Doug Hardy, Norwich
On 5/24/2014 3:35 PM, [log in to unmask] wrote:
> Dave Johnston and I went up to WRJ VA hospital today to see the northern wheatear. Terrific views. What interested me, having seen many hundreds of wheatears in Europe, is that this bird is a really spectacular male of the Greenland race (leucorhoa). So, maybe this bird took a wrong turning last fall when it left the eastern arctic, wintered somewhere, I presume, in South America, and is now heading back up to its breeding area. Greenland males are noticeably larger and more brightly colored on the throat and breast than "southern" northern wheatears. Well worth seeing. By the way, the name wheatear has nothing to do with cereals or aural appendages. It is a corruption of white arse. Easy to see why.
> Hector Galbraith, PhD
> National Wildlife Federation
> 802 258 4836
> 802 222 1916 (cell)