The Epic Migration of a Songbird

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For the Geo Quiz, we're tracking a bird called the Northern Wheatear. This little bird has one of the largest ranges of any songbird in the world. Its breeding grounds stretch from Siberia, across the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. During winter migration, they fly all the way to the Sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists have figured that out by attaching tiny geo-locators to the birds, then mapping out their long flights. Researchers have shown that the Alaskan colony of Wheatears travels over 9000 miles one way to reach West Africa. Another colony in eastern Canada flies across the Atlantic Ocean, then over the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert to reach its winter grounds. The devices are fitted on the birds in one of their breeding grounds. That is on the largest island in Canada, which is what we want you to name. Final hint: The island is part of the territory of Nunavut. Baffin Island is the answer to the Geo Quiz. It is where bird researchers study the migratory flights of a songbird called the Northern Wheatear. Anchor Marco Werman speaks with ecologist Ryan Norris from the University of Guelph, Ontario, about how scientists track the Wheatear's flight from Arctic Canada to Sub-Saharan Africa, the longest migration of any songbird.

  • The Northern Wheatear is a tiny songbird that breeds in Arctic Canada and then migrates thousands of kilometres to Africa for winter. (Photo: Rolf Nagel)


    Rolf Nagel Wilhelmshaven

  • The migration route of the wheatear songbird. (Map: Ryan Norris)


    Manya Gupta

  • The Northern Wheatear. (Photo: Heiko Schmaljohann)



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