Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) are abundant breeding birds in North America, but their migratory and non‐breeding biology remain poorly understood. Studies where genetic and isotopic techniques were used identified parallel migration systems and longitudinal segregation among eastern‐ and western‐breeding populations of Yellow Warblers in North America, but these techniques have low spatial resolution. During the 2015 breeding season, we tagged male Yellow Warblers breeding in Maine (N = 10) and Wisconsin (N = 10) with light‐level geolocators to elucidate fine‐scale migratory connectivity within the eastern haplotype of this species and determine fall migration timing, routes, and wintering locations. We recovered seven of 20 geolocators (35%), including four in Maine and three in Wisconsin. The mean duration of fall migration was 49 d with departure from breeding areas in late August and early September and arrival in wintering areas in mid‐October. Most individuals crossed the Gulf of Mexico to Central America before completing the final eastward leg of their migration to northern South America. Yellow Warblers breeding in Maine wintered in north‐central Colombia, west of those breeding in Wisconsin that wintered in Venezuela and the border region between Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. Our results provide an example of crosswise migration, where the more easterly breeding population wintered farther west than the more westerly breeding population (and vice versa), a seldom‐documented phenomenon in birds. Our results confirm earlier work demonstrating that the eastern haplotype of northern Yellow Warblers winters in northern South America, and provide novel information about migratory strategies, timing, and wintering locations of birds from two different populations.
Journal of Field Ornithology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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