Do partial and regular migrants differ in their responses to weather?

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Abstract

Partial migration is often considered a transitory stage between migration and residency, and whether partial migrants take weather conditions into account during migration is largely unknown. To assess whether partial migrants differ from regular migrants in their responses to weather, we compared the migratory intensity of a partial migrant, the Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), with more regular migrants in relation to weather at a migratory passage site in southern Sweden (Falsterbo) during the years 1993-2002. The regular migrants in the study were Linnet (Carduelis cannabina), Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), Brambling (F. montifringilla), and European Robin (Erithactis rubecula). The Blue Tit differed from the regular migrants mainly in showing a striking negative correlation between migratory activity and cloud cover. Also, weather had the highest explanatory power for migratory intensity in the Blue Tit. This suggests that the Blue Tit is more sensitive to weather conditions on migration than the regular migrants and that it preferably awaits days with wholly or partly clear skies before migrating past Falsterbo. As a consequence, Blue Tits usually restrict their migratory flights to the safest occasions, with relatively calm weather, good visibility, and all orientation cues (solar as well as magnetic) available.

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-547
JournalThe Auk
Volume123
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes