Data from: Compensation for wind drift prevails for a shorebird on a long-distance, transoceanic flight
2023-04-19, Linscott, Jennifer A., Navedo, Juan G., Clements, Sarah J., Loghry, Jason P., Ruiz, Jorge, Ballard, Bart M., Weegman, Mitch D., Senner, Nathan R.
Background: Conditions encountered en route can dramatically impact the energy that migratory species spend on movement. Migratory birds often manage energetic costs by adjusting their behavior in relation to wind conditions as they fly. Wind-influenced behaviors can offer insight into the relative importance of risk and resistance during migration, but to date, they have only been studied in a limited subset of avian species and flight types. We add to this understanding by examining in-flight behaviors over a days-long, barrier-crossing flight in a migratory shorebird. Methods: Using satellite tracking devices, we followed 25 Hudsonian godwits (Limosa haemastica) from 2019–2021 as they migrated northward across a largely transoceanic landscape extending > 7000 km from Chiloé Island, Chile to the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We identified in-flight behaviors during this crossing by comparing directions of critical movement vectors and used mixed models to test whether the resulting patterns supported three classical predictions about wind and migration. Results: Contrary to our predictions, compensation did not increase linearly with distance traveled, was not constrained during flight over open ocean, and did not influence where an individual ultimately crossed over the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico at the end of this flight. Instead, we found a strong preference for full compensation throughout godwit flight paths. Conclusions: Our results indicate that compensation is crucial to godwits, emphasizing the role of risk in shaping migratory behavior and raising questions about the consequences of changing wind regimes for other barrier-crossing aerial migrants.