Blackpoll Warblers were one of the first species found to fly a different migration route in fall than in spring. The new research shows that many more songbird species migrate in similar elliptical, clockwise routes.
There's been somewhat of a breakthrough by researchers at Cornell University's lab of ornithology who have a better idea of just how small songbirds migrate. Scientists have known for over a century that waterfowl like geese and ducks tend to follow the same, narrow migration paths. But after combing through years of crowd-sourcing data, scientists can now say the travel habits of tiny land-based birds follow less-defined flyways, and instead depend on wind patterns. LaSorte says until now, the migration of small songbirds was mostly speculation.