Spring migration strategies vary within and among species. Examination of this variability extends our understanding of life histories and has implications for conservation. I used satellite transmitters to determine migration strategies and evaluate factors influencing the timing of spring migration of Pacific Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima v-nigrum) that nest along the western Beaufort Sea coast. Adult females were marked at nesting colonies in the summers of 2000, 2001, and 2003, and were followed throughout spring migration the following year. Each year approximately equal proportions of eiders used three distinct migration strategies varying in duration, staging locations (waters near the Chukotka Peninsula, Russia, and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, Alaska), and arrival dates at the nesting areas. It is unlikely that differences in the timing of movements to stopover sites in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas were a result of responses to changes in weather, particularly wind direction. Ice distribution and melt/movement patterns vary substantially among staging areas and thus may affect risk of starvation and reproductive potential. Long-term (decadal) changes in climate may favor birds using one strategy during "warmer" and another during "colder" years. ?? 2009 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved.
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Multiple spring migration strategies in a population of Pacific Common Eiders