Blackpoll Warblers check in for a stopover

  • Numerous sightings: Blackpoll Warblers have descended on the island after Hurricane Nicole (Photograph by Andrew Dobson)

    Numerous sightings: Blackpoll Warblers have descended on the island after Hurricane Nicole (Photograph by Andrew Dobson)

  • (Photograph by Andrew Dobson)

    (Photograph by Andrew Dobson)


Hurricane Nicole brought more than winds to the island, with remarkably high numbers of Blackpoll Warblers making an appearance.

In the days after the storm, the Bermuda Audubon Society said it has been inundated with sightings of the small yellow bird — usually an occasional visitor to the island.

Andrew Dobson, the society’s president, said: “Hundreds, if not thousands of these birds have been seen in parks and gardens throughout Bermuda. This species is a regular fall migrant but 2016 will go down as the ‘Blackpoll fall’.”

Blackpoll Warblers occupy an extensive breeding range across Alaska and Canada, along with the subalpine forests and spruce-fir forest of eastern North America. “Blackpolls winter in northern South America, undertake the longest migration of any North American warbler,” Mr Dobson said.

He said some individuals travel more than 5,000 miles from Alaska to Brazil, and part of the fall migratory route is over the Atlantic, right over Bermuda.

That route averages 1,800 miles over water, necessitating a potentially nonstop flight of up to 88 hours.

Mr Dobson said: “If the birds encounter bad weather, as they did last week, they may well stop over in Bermuda.”

He added that most of the birds would continue their migration after a few days on the island.

The name Blackpoll is derived from the black head of a breeding male. However, the fall birds in Bermuda are in non-breeding plumage, pale yellow on the chest and greenish-grey above with white edging to the tail and orange legs.

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Published Oct 21, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm)

Blackpoll Warblers check in for a stopover

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