Native to the northern Appalachian Mountains and the northern Midwest (USA and Canada), the Golden-winged warbler is a small, colorful, passerine* bird. Found solely in the New World, the species Vermivora chrysoptera has gained notoriety for its psychic abilities.
A study published in the journal, Current Biology, established the notion that golden-winged warblers could predict extreme weather events. How do they do this? Due to their ability to hear at low frequencies, these “psychic” birds have been show to sense far-off storms, before they strike. For example, recently in April of 2014, in eastern Tennessee, a storm occurred with approximately 84 tornadoes that killed around 35 people, called the “April Tornado Outbreak”.
However 24 hours before the storm hit, all golden-winged warblers in the area migrated 400 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Their keen sense of hearing detected the low-range infrasounds** emitted by the storms, and they noticed a change in atmospheric pressure.
Below is a quotation from Dr. Henry Streby, from the University of California, Berkeley which explains the implications of this newfound discovery — the unexpected result of a completely different experiment, on geolocators***:
“With the predicted increase in severity and frequency of similar storms as anthropogenic climate change progresses, understanding large-scale behavioral responses of animals to such events will be an important objective of future research.”
For more information about Dr. Streby’s experiment, please see Current Biology: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(14)01428-6
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*Of the order Passeriformes **Sound below the range of human hearing ***Method to track birds’ migration patterns