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The influence of weather on the migration behaviour of Eurasian Bitterns Botaurus stellaris
van der Winden, J.; Hogeweg, N.; Baaij, E.; van Horssen, P.W.; Shamoun-Baranes, J.; Vos, R.; Piersma, T. (2021). The influence of weather on the migration behaviour of Eurasian Bitterns Botaurus stellaris. Bird Study 68(3): 370-380.
In: Bird Study. British Trust for Ornithology: Oxford. ISSN 0006-3657; e-ISSN 1944-6705, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Auteurs  Top 
  • van der Winden, J.
  • Hogeweg, N.
  • Baaij, E.
  • van Horssen, P.W.
  • Shamoun-Baranes, J.
  • Vos, R.
  • Piersma, T., meer

    CapsuleMigration studies of tagged Eurasian Bitterns Botaurus stellaris provide information on the behaviour of this secretive species in relation to weather conditions.AimsTo study if cold spells trigger southward migration in resident Eurasian Bitterns. To describe migratory behaviour including flight routes, altitudes, flight direction in relation to wind speed and direction, and general characteristics of stopping sites.MethodsSix adult Eurasian Bitterns from Dutch breeding areas were followed for two to five years using ARGOS-PTT/GPS transmitters or GPS trackers.ResultsFour individuals remained at the breeding sites in winter and did not migrate in response to cold spells. Two individuals covered distances of 300 and 1600 km between stopping sites. They migrated predominantly at night, but over the Sahara they extended flights into daylight hours. Depending on wind assistance, flight speeds (groundspeed) varied between 3.6 and 26 ms−1. Flight altitude varied from just above sea level when facing headwinds, to almost 2000 m above sea level under tail wind conditions. Repeatedly tracked individuals showed substantial variation in routes and stopping sites between successive migrations. These flight patterns appeared influenced by the speed and direction of the winds encountered en route.ConclusionsEurasian Bitterns were either migratory or resident and the latter individuals did not perform facultative movements at the onset of cold spells. The flight speed, flight altitudes, and routes of migrating birds were influenced by wind conditions. This likely explains the variable use of stopping sites between years.

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