Factors influencing the movement biology of migrant songbirds confronted with an ecological barrier

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Whether or not a migratory songbird embarks on a long-distance flight across an ecological barrier is likely a response to a number of endogenous and exogenous factors. During autumn 2008 and 2009, we used automated radio tracking to investigate how energetic condition, age, and weather influenced the departure timing and direction of Swainson’s thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) during migratory stopover along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Most birds left within 1 h after sunset on the evening following capture. Those birds that departed later on the first night or remained longer than 1 day were lean. Birds that carried fat loads sufficient to cross the Gulf of Mexico generally departed in a seasonally appropriate southerly direction, whereas lean birds nearly always flew inland in a northerly direction. We did not detect an effect of age or weather on departures. The decision by lean birds to reorient movement inland may reflect the suitability of the coastal stopover site for deposition of fuel stores and the motivation to seek food among more extensive forested habitat away from the barrier.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Factors influencing the movement biology of migrant songbirds confronted with an ecological barrier
Series title Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
DOI 10.1007/s00265-013-1614-6
Volume 67
Issue 12
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Publisher location Berlin
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
First page 2041
Last page 2051
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N