We examined the movements of flightless Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis) during the wing molt in the near-shore lagoons of the Beaufort Sea in Alaska. Estimates of site fidelity during the 21-day flightless period ranged from 1-100%, with considerable variation among locations and within locations among years. There was no effect of low-level experimental disturbance or an underwater seismic survey on site fidelity of molting Long-tailed Ducks. Birds molting along a relatively consistent habitat gradient were more likely to move than those molting in a fragmented habitat. While flocks of birds are consistently observed in the same locations, these data suggest considerable turnover within these aggregations. These results, in conjunction with other studies, suggest that forage is relatively uniformly distributed within lagoons. We conclude that habitat selection by molting Long-tailed Ducks is likely influenced by protection from wind and associated waves.
Additional publication details
Movements of flightless long-tailed ducks during wing molt