Schmaljohann, Heiko

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  • Data package
    Data from: Two subspecies of a songbird migrant optimise departure from a coastal stopover with regard to weather and the route lying ahead
    (2022-11-18) Brust, Vera; Schmaljohann, Heiko; Hüppop, Ommo
    Songbirds on migration spend a greater share of their travelling time at stopover sites in order to rest, recover and refuel compared to actively flying. In the German Bight of the North Sea, two subspecies of the northern wheatear split travelling routes, with Greenlandic/Icelandic breeders (subspecies leucorhoa) facing a long over-sea flight and Scandinavian breeding birds (subspecies oenanthe) travelling further roughly along the coast. We used automated radio-telemetry in spring to show that leucorhoa birds stayed significantly longer at a coastal stopover site and clearly selected for favourable weather, especially easterly winds, when resuming flights Conditions for departures of individuals from the subspecies oenanthe were less obvious. They were more likely to depart on nights with southerly winds, often along with rising air temperatures, while air pressure dropped. Individuals of subspecies leucorhoa thus wait for optimal flying conditions to resume for longer flights, while oenanthe birds, with shorter distances ahead, seem to optimise time by leaving the stopover site more quickly. Our dataset thus confirms that songbirds optimise stopover based on their (sub)species-specific migration patterns.