© Marcel Burkhardt
Van Wijk, Rien E., S. Bauer & M. Schaub (2016)
Repeatability of individual migration routes, wintering sites, and timing in a long-distance migrant bird.
Ecol. Evol. 6: 8679–8685
Migratory birds are often faithful to wintering (nonbreeding) sites, and also migration timing is usually remarkably consistent, that is, highly repeatable. Spatiotemporal repeatability can be of advantage for multiple reasons, including familiarity with local resources and predators as well as avoiding the costs of finding a new place, for example, nesting grounds. However, when the environment is variable in space and time, variable site selection and timing might be more rewarding. To date, studies on spatial and temporal repeatability in short-lived long-distance migrants are scarce, most notably of first-time and subsequent migrations. Here, we investigated repeatability in autumn migration directions, wintering sites, and annual migration timing in Hoopoes (Upupa epops), a long-distance migrant, using repeated tracks of adult and first-time migrants. Even though autumn migration directions were mostly the same, individual wintering sites often changed from year to year with distances between wintering sites exceeding 1,000 km. The timing of migration was repeatable within an individual during autumn, but not during spring migration. We suggest that Hoopoes respond to variable environmental conditions such as north–south shifts in rainfall during winter and differing onset of the food availability during spring migration.
keywords: autumn migration, first-time migrants, geolocators, Hoopoes, non-breeding, Sahel, spring migration