Causes and characteristics of reverse bird migration: An analysis based on radar, radio tracking and ringing at Falsterbo, Sweden

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Abstract

That birds migrate in the reverse direction of the expected is a phenomenon of regular occurrence which has been observed at many sites. Here we use three different methods; tracking radar, radiotelemetry and ringing, to characterize the flights of these reverse migrants and investigate possible causes of reverse migration of nocturnally migrating passerines during autumn migration at Falsterbo peninsula, Sweden. Using these different methods we investigated both internal factors, such as age and fuel load, and external factors such as weather variables, competition and predation risk. Birds flying in the reverse direction were more likely to be lean and to be juveniles. Reverse migration was also more common with overcast skies and winds with north and east components. We did not find any effect of temperature, visibility, number of migrating sparrowhawks, or the total number of ringed birds at the site on the day of departure. We found that reverse migration is characterized by slower flight speeds (airspeed) at high altitudes and that it takes place later in the night than forward migration.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-362
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Volume47
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 1
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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