This is a female Yellow Warbler,
She weighs half an ounce.
Warblers can fly non-stop from Costa Rica
Where they winter,
Across the Gulf of Mexico to Lousianna,
- Without rest or food -
A fifteen hour flight for warblers,
With a good tail wind.
Wally (not shown) is a Yellow Warbler
Banded nine years ago.
Wally watchers in Canada
Estimate he has logged
Around 45,000 miles in the air.
Once he crosses the Gulf
He will take the Mississippi Flyway
Up through the belly of America
To summer in Minnesota and Michigan,
Or even as far north as the Arctic Circle
In Alaska or Canada.
If he runs into a headwind
Or a storm over the Gulf
He will be driven back
Into the night.
Like all warblers and most all
Small birds of the boreal forests,
When flying over water,
Wally takes flight an hour after sundown.
He uses the stars for navigation
Relying on the earth's magnetic field
To find his way when clouds
Obscure the stars.
No one is 100% positively sure
How Wally can sense
Magnetic north to self correct.
He has a 50-50 chance of survival.
Storms and headwinds
May blow him off course
Or force him
To fly in place
Or be driven back
Into the night
Until every bit of
Body fat and muscle
Is burned up and
Into the sea.
Wally has survived nine seasons
And fathered nine broods
He is one tough little miracle.
By Diana Mercedes Howell(firstname.lastname@example.org)