Saturday, 24 October 2009

Canadian Northern Wheatear Found in Iceland

I am a member of Bird Studies Canada and the article below was in an e-bulletin I received on 9th October. I thought that it was so interesting that I thought you would like to read it your selves.

"The Northern Wheatear undertakes one of the most remarkable migrations of any songbird. It is the only songbird that breeds in North America and winters in Africa. Alaskan and Yukon breeders migrate roughly southwest to winter in east Africa. The eastern Arctic population, breeding from Ellesmere Island south to Labrador and in Greenland, migrates southeast, crossing the Atlantic to winter in western Africa south of the Sahara.

A breeding female, banded by Dr. David Hussell at Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut, in July 2007 was found dead near Reykjavik, Iceland in mid-May 2009, presumably en route back to Baffin Island. This is the first North American-banded Wheatear recovered anywhere, as well as the first banded songbird from North America found in Iceland. It would have been on at least its sixth Atlantic crossing when it died in Iceland.

The Wheatear found in Iceland was one of 83 banded by Dr. Hussell in the course of his research in 2007 and 2008. This year, he and his team located 16 nests and at least two additional fledged broods during nearly eight weeks of fieldwork. They added 44 to the number of Wheatears they have banded at Iqaluit, which at 127 is more than triple the total banded in Canada in the preceding 50 years!

Dr. Hussell is continuing his research on Wheatears at Iqaluit with support from Bird Studies Canada, in collaboration with Dr. Ryan Norris, University of Guelph, and Dr Franz Bairlein, Avian Research Institute, Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The objectives of this research are to learn more about the breeding of Wheatears in Canada and their migrations to and from Africa".

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