Geolocator reveals migratory and winter movements of a Prothonotary Warbler.

  • August 27, 2015
  • by Wolfe, J. D., & Johnson, E. I.

Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) are Nearctic‐Neotropic migrants that have experienced declining populations over the past 50 yr. Determining their migration routes and wintering areas are critical steps in identifying habitats used by species and populations of conservation concern. We captured a male Prothonotary Warbler on its breeding territory in Louisiana in June 2013 and attached a geolocator. We recaptured this male in March 2014 and analysis of the geolocator data revealed that the male traveled an estimated 7950 km through seven countries. Fall migration was characterized by movements south into Central America on 13 August 2014, then east to the Greater Antilles for about 1 mo, followed by a second movement south to Panama or Colombia on 15 November 2014 where the male remained for the rest of the winter. Spring migration occurred rapidly, with the bird leaving its southern wintering area on 4 March 2014 and returning to its breeding territory on 23 March 2014. The movements of this male Prothonotary Warbler add to accumulating evidence that many migrant birds exhibit either prolonged stopover behavior or secondary migratory movements. Factors contributing to prolonged stopover behavior or additional migratory movements of the Prothonotary Warbler in our study warrant further investigation.