From 2006 to 2009, we marked 198 Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) with satellite transmitters on their wintering areas in Japan to study their migration routes and habitat use in spring staging areas. We hypothesized that the distribution of pintails during spring staging was influenced by patterns of land use and expected that the most frequently used areas would have more agricultural habitat than lesser-used areas. We obtained 3031 daily locations from 163 migrant pintails marked with satellite transmitters and identified 524 stopover sites. Based on a fixed kernel home range analysis of stopover utilization distribution (UD), core staging areas (areas within the 50% UD) were identified in northern Honshu and western Hokkaido, and were used by 71% of marked pintails. Core staging areas had a greater proportion of rice fields than peripheral (51–95% UD) and rarely used (outside the 95% UD) staging areas. Stopover sites also contained more rice fields and other agricultural land than were available at regional scales, indicating that pintails selected rice and other agricultural habitats at regional and local scales. Pintails remained at spring staging areas an average of 51 d. Prolonged staging in agricultural habitats of northern Japan was likely necessary for pintails to prepare for transoceanic migration to Arctic nesting areas in eastern Russia.
Additional publication details
Habitat use and movement patterns of Northern Pintails during spring in northern Japan: the importance of agricultural lands