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Radio telemetry studies on bird migration

Falsterbo peninsula, located on the southernmost tip of Scandinavia, is one of the most important, strategic sites for migratory birds in Northern Europe. Each autumn, about 50 million birds from across Sweden, Norway and Finland pass through Falsterbo on their way to Central Europe, the Mediterranean, or Africa. While we know much about species composition, phenology and the condition of birds migrating through Falsterbo from ringing and bird migration counts, little is known about migration strategies in general, stopover behaviour, timing of departure and departure directions, especially of nocturnally migrating songbirds.

The main goal of this project is to study stopover behaviour and strategies of migratory songbirds, including movements on the peninsula during their stay, activity phases during the day/night, duration of stay in relation of fat reserves at capture and weather conditions. Also timing of departure in relation to weather, in comparison to strength of migration measured by ringing data and radar tracking before and at the departure will be studied as well as departure directions in relation to the species-specific migratory directions from ringing recoveries and possible influence of wind. We are also interested in knowing more about time of departure and availability of orientation cues, i.e., when during the night nocturnal migrants depart. We also study orientation mechanisms by manipulating sunrise or sunset cues relative to magnetic compass cues, enabling us to study the use, importance and hierarchy of different compass cues used by birds to determine their migratory direction.

Radio telemetry

Radio telemetry
Photo: Arne Andersson

In collaboration with Falsterbo Bird Observatory, we have initiated a radio telemetry study at Falsterbo peninsula. We installed three automated telemetry stations on the Falsterbo peninsula, allowing us to follow the movements of individual birds during their stopover, and to study their departure orientation, during both spring and autumn migration.

Species with different migration strategies

We use migratory songbirds that are captured during the ordinary ringing scheme at Falsterbo Bird Observatory. We chose bird species with different migration strategies that are well represented at Falsterbo, consisting of both day- and night-migrants, and short-, medium- and long-distance migrants. Also, We chose both individuals that had plenty of fat reserves to continue migration and leaner individuals that were not expected to depart from Falsterbo immediately.
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Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden