Satellite tracking of Swedish Ospreys Pandion haliaetus: Autumn migration routes and orientation

M Hake, Nils Kjellén, Thomas Alerstam

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Autumn migration routes and orientation of Swedish Ospreys Pandion haliaetus were studied by satellite tracking of 18 birds. Of these. 13 could be followed during the entire migration (6 females, 5 males and 2 juveniles). Most birds migrated across western and central Europe to winter in tropical West Africa. However, one juvenile flew to Cameroon and one Female used a very easterly route and reached Mozambique. On average, the birds travelled a total distance of about 6700 km, with little variation except for the female wintering in Mozambique, who travelled more than 10000 km. Of 21 stopovers (of > 1 day), only five were made south of 45 degreesN; three of these in Africa. Females departed before males and juveniles and flew to a stopover site they probably were familiar with. After 3-4 weeks there, they continued to their wintering grounds. Also males and juveniles usually made one or more stopovers. Adults seemed to travel to a known wintering site. where they remained stationary, whereas juveniles were more mobile after reaching tropical regions, probably looking for good wintering sites. Males generally left the breeding area in directions similar to the mean migratory direction, whereas a fen females departed in diverging initial directions. Apart from these diversions, adult Ospreys followed very straight migratory routes. with overall mean directions of 185-209 degrees and with mean angular deviations of 6-33 degrees. Some juveniles also departed in diverging directions. Moreover, young birds tended to show a larger variability in orientation. Thus, the Ospreys kept a fairly straight direction and did not avoid geographical obstacles such as mountain ranges and desert areas. However. they seemed reluctant to cross large water bodies. There was no correlation between angular deviation and length of the migrational segment, indicating that the principles of orientation by vector summation may not be valid for Osprey migration. Moreover, the geographic direction of migration did not vary in accordance with variations in the magnetic declination, suggesting that the Ospreys did not orient along magnetic loxodromes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology
  • Biological Sciences


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