Santos CD, Silva JP, Muñoz A, Onrubia A, Wikelski M. AEMET_meteorological_data. Movebank Data Repository.
(1) Large bodies of water represent major obstacles for the migration of soaring birds because thermal updrafts are absent or weak over water. Soaring birds are known to time their water crossings with favourable weather conditions and there are records of birds falling into the water and drowning in large numbers. However, it is still unclear how environmental factors, individual traits and trajectory choices affect their water crossing performance, this being important to understand the fitness consequences of water barriers for this group of birds. (2) We addressed this problem using the black kite (Milvus migrans) as model species at a major migration bottleneck, the Strait of Gibraltar. (3) We recorded high‐resolution GPS and triaxial accelerometer data for 73 birds while crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, allowing the determination of sea crossing duration, length, altitude, speed and tortuosity, the flapping behaviour of birds and their failed crossing attempts. These parameters were modelled against wind speed and direction, time of the day, solar irradiance (proxy of thermal uplift), starting altitude and distance to Morocco, and age and sex of birds. (4) We found that sea crossing performance of black kites is driven by their age, the wind conditions, the starting altitude and distance to Morocco. Young birds made longer sea crossings and reached lower altitude above the sea than adults. Crosswinds promoted longer sea crossings, with birds reaching lower altitudes and with higher flapping effort. Birds starting at lower altitudes were more likely to quit or made higher flapping effort to complete the crossing. The location where birds started the sea crossings impacted crossing distance and duration. (5) We present evidence that explains why migrating soaring birds accumulate at sea passages during adverse weather conditions. Strong crosswinds during sea crossings force birds to extended flap‐powered flight at low altitude, which may increase their chances of falling in the water. We also showed that juvenile birds assume more risks than adults. Finally, the way in which birds start the sea crossing is crucial for their success, particularly the starting altitude, which dictates how far birds can reach with reduced flapping effort.
accelerometer,animal movement,animal tracking,avian migration,bio-logging,biotelemetry,black kite,GSM telemetry,Milvus migrans,Strait of Gibraltar
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DOIs of related Publications
  title = {AEMET_meteorological_data},
  author = {Santos, CD and Silva, JP and Muñoz, A and Onrubia, A and Wikelski, M},
  URL = {},
  doi = {doi:10.5441/001/1.r9g07dr8/3},
  publisher = {Movebank data repository}
ID  - doi:10.5441/001/1.r9g07dr8/3
T1  - AEMET_meteorological_data
AU  - Santos, Carlos D.
AU  - Silva, João Paulo
AU  - Muñoz, Antonio-Román
AU  - Onrubia, Alejandro
AU  - Wikelski, Martin
KW  - accelerometer
KW  - animal movement
KW  - animal tracking
KW  - avian migration
KW  - bio-logging
KW  - biotelemetry
KW  - black kite
KW  - GSM telemetry
KW  - Milvus migrans
KW  - Strait of Gibraltar
KW  - Milvus migrans
PB  - Movebank data repository
UR  -
DO  - doi:10.5441/001/1.r9g07dr8/3
ER  -