Are flight paths of nocturnal songbird migrants influenced by local coastlines at a peninsula?
- Evolutionary ecology
flight paths. Birds could use coastlines as an orientation aid or as a reference cue to compensate for wind drift while migrating.
However, on the small scale of Falsterbo Peninsula in southern Sweden, we found very little effect of coastlines on migrants
flight paths, irrespective of altitude. We tracked 2 930 migrants in three autumn and two spring seasons, at altitudes from
60 up to 3 000 meters. We compared tracks of migrants flying in three different areas, which correspond to the three main coastlines,
and can demonstrate that the orientation of the tracks did not differ in a way consistent with the coastlines between the
areas in autumn, and showed only a slight effect in spring. This is in accordance with earlier infrared device monitoring in Falsterbo,
but contrary to earlier visual observations. It supports the view of nocturnally migrating passerines as mainly broad-front
migrants. Even though the coastlines on the scale of the peninsula affected the flight paths very little, it is possible that the coastline
has an effect on a larger regional scale, by migrants avoiding long sea crossings and thereby being funneled towards the peninsula,
but this remains to be investigated.
- Biological Sciences
- ISSN: 1674-5507