Understanding interconnectivity among wintering, stopover, and breeding areas of migratory birds is pivotal to discerning how events occurring in each might have a cross-seasonal effect on another. Such information can guide the location and timing of conservation efforts. Thus, we examined spring migration routes, chronology, and stopover use of 85 surf scoters (Melanitta perspicillata (L., 1758)) marked with satellite transmitters at four Pacific Flyway wintering sites: San Quintin Bay, Baja California; San Francisco Bay, California; Puget Sound, Washington; and Strait of Georgia, British Columbia. Eighty-three percent of marked scoters followed two main routes to the breeding area: a Southern Inland route involving staging in Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia and protracted inland migration, or a Northern Coastal route characterized by short movements along the Pacific coast of British Columbia and southeast Alaska with inland migration initiating from Lynn Canal and surrounding areas. Route choice was related to nesting site latitude in the Canadian Northern Boreal Forest. Data from birds tracked over 2 years indicated strong migration route fidelity, but altered chronology and stopover locations between years. Departure date varied by wintering site, but arrival and apparent settling dates were synchronous, suggesting individuals adjusted migration timing to meet an optimized reproductive schedule.
Additional publication details
Spring migration routes and chronology of surf scoters (Melanitta perspicillata): a synthesis of Pacific coast studies
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Canadian Science Publishing
Alaska Science Center, Western Ecological Research Center