Nav: Home

Migrating birds speed up in spring

September 07, 2016

It turns out being the early bird really does have its advantages. A new study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows that migrating birds fly faster and put more effort into staying on course in spring than in fall, racing to arrive to their breeding grounds as soon as possible to get an edge in raising the next generation.

Migrating birds travel faster in spring than in fall because arriving late to their breeding grounds can affect their reproductive success. Past studies have shown that migrants take shorter breaks in spring, but it's harder to tell whether they also move faster in the air. When they used high-tech weather surveillance radars operated by NOAA and the Department of Defense on migrating birds, Kyle Horton of the University of Oklahoma and his colleagues found that birds did indeed fly faster in spring and compensated more for crosswinds that could blow them off course.

"Many migration studies look at a few individuals, maybe on the scale of hundreds, but with radar, we're now documenting the behaviors of millions of individuals on a given night. That's a lot of data, and when you do see flight behavior results that are regionally or seasonally different, it's quite compelling," says Horton. He hopes birds' ability to adjust their migratory behavior for different conditions will buffer them against the effects climate change, which may cause large-scale shifts in wind intensity.

This study made use of recent upgrades to government radar stations. "In 2013 an additional plane of polarization was added to the radars, giving us another dimension to look at migratory birds, among other things," explains Horton. "This allowed us to measure the orientation of birds directly for the first time."

"Horton et al. have tapped the great potential of large-scale surveillance radars to advance our understanding of migration ecology," adds the University of Delaware's Jeff Buler, a radar ecology expert who was not involved in the study. "Their novel analysis reveals macroscale patterns in the aggregate behaviors of migrating birds that support existing literature on flight strategies of migrants. In addition, their analysis makes new discoveries about greater overall wind compensation during spring and new hypotheses about the processes underlying these patterns."
-end-
"Seasonal differences in landbird migration strategies" will be available September 7, 2016, at http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/abs/10.1642/AUK-16-105.1 (issue URL http://www.aoucospubs.org/toc/tauk/133/4).

About the journal: The Auk: Ornithological Advances is a peer-reviewed, international journal of ornithology that began in 1884 as the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union. In 2009, The Auk was honored as one of the 100 most influential journals of biology and medicine over the past 100 years.

Central Ornithology Publication Office

Related Migratory Birds Articles:

Birds become immune to influenza
An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.
Even non-migratory birds use a magnetic compass
Not only migratory birds use a built-in magnetic compass to navigate correctly.
Migratory birds bumped off schedule as climate change shifts spring
New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species.
Migratory seabird deaths linked to hurricanes
Stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to the sooty tern, a species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic, a new Duke-led study reveals.
Fly-over states matter when understanding -- and saving -- migratory birds
Around the world, thousands of migratory animals travel hundreds or even thousands of miles each year.
How migratory birds respond to balmier autumns?
The study led by Adrienne Berchtold from the Advanced Facility for Avian Research at the University of Western Ontario, focused on one songbird species that is known to rely on weather for its migratory journey: the white-throated sparrow.
Combined count data reveals shifts in hawks' migratory behavior
Bird species' distributions and migratory behavior are shifting in response to changes in climate and land-use, but surveys that focus on a particular season can cause scientists to miss trends in the bigger picture.
Departure of migratory birds from stopover sites is hormone-controlled
It had been unclear which physiological signals triggered the birdsdecision to continue their flight.
Climate change has mixed effects on migratory geese
Climate change improves the breeding chances of migratory geese in the Arctic -- but puts mother geese at more risk of death, according to a new study.
Routes of migratory birds follow today's peaks in resources
Movement of migratory birds is closely linked to seasonal availability of resources.

Related Migratory Birds Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...