Individual migration patterns of Eurasian golden ploversPluvialis apricariabreeding in Swedish Lapland; examples of cold spell-induced winter movements

Tracking studies normally focus on long-distance migrants, meaning that our understanding about short-distance migration remains limited. In this study, we present the first individual tracks of the Eurasian golden plover Pluvialis apricaria, a short-distance migrant, which were tracked from a Scandinavian breeding population using geolocators. In addition, golden plovers are known for their cold spell-induced winter movements, and this study provides some first individual tracking data on this type of movements. In three cases the plovers spent the winter in NW Europe and in four cases they departed during winter from NW Europe to spend the rest of the winter in Iberia or Morocco (one bird that was tracked during two subsequent migration cycles moved to Iberia in the first winter but remained in NW Europe during the second winter). The four winter departures were associated with a cold spell in NW Europe during which maximum temperatures dropped to freezing. Cold spell-induced winter movements were notably long and fast. The birds that remained at their NW European wintering site did not experience such cold spell. Interestingly, the individual that was tracked for a second season did experience four cold spells at its wintering site in NW France, but it never left this area, indicating that plovers not always move on in response to cold. Little information was obtained about spring migration, but one bird had a prominent counter-clockwise loop migration pattern through E Europe. Due to their cold spell winter movements, golden plovers exhibit great flexibility in migration patterns, resulting in a notably large spread in final wintering areas.


Publication status:
Authors: Machín, Paula, Fernández-Elipe, Juan, Flores, Manuel, Fox, James W., Aguirre, Jose I., Klaassen, Raymond H. G.

1 November, 2015
Journal of Avian Biology / 46
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