Saturday, May 14, is World Migratory Bird Day! As our way of celebrating birds’ amazing migratory feats, we put together this round-up of migration-related papers published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology last year. When you’re done exploring them, go check out the official World Migratory Bird Day website, which has lots of information and activities related to this year’s theme, the impacts of light pollution on migrating birds!
First description of migration and wintering home range of Gray-headed Lapwings (Vanellus cinereus) tracked with GPS-GSM satellite telemetry, by Yu Lei, Zhu-Mei Li, Zhong-Fan Kuang, and Qiang Liu. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133: 308–314.
Prior to this study, little was known about the migration of Asia’s Gray-headed Lapwings, but GPS transmitters revealed the routes they take between breeding grounds in eastern China and wintering areas in India and Bangladesh. Only fourteen individuals were reported in the Yangtze River floodplain in winter of 2015, which may indicate a population in serious decline.
Inter- and intracontinental migration by the Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), by Daniel H. Kim, Lucas J. Redmond, James R. Fox, and Michael T. Murphy. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133: 202–214.
Light-level geolocators recovered from twelve birds showed how the migratory routes of Eastern Kingbirds vary between fall and spring and between birds that nest in different regions of the U.S. A third of the birds spent time in the same region of northwestern Amazonia over the winter, but some moved around within South America during the winter, rather than sticking to a single non-breeding territory.
Habitat associations of landbirds in southern Texas during migration, by Samantha J. Wolfe, Arlene J. Arnold, John T. Edwards, Matthew J. Schnupp, and Bart M. Ballard. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133: 43–57.
What type of habitat do migrating birds taking a break on the coast of Texas prefer? Small stands of oak trees set in a prairie landscape, according to the six years of bird surveys that formed the basis for this study. Highly vulnerable Golden-winged Warblers were among the species spotted making use of these unique islands of habitat.
Southern distribution and evidence of migration in the Eared Quetzal (Euptilotis neoxenus) in west-central Jalisco, Mexico, by Sarahy Contreras-Martínez et al. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133: 991–998.
Conventional wisdom holds that Mexico’s Eared Quetzals are year-round residents of their mountain habitats. So what are they doing on this list? This study used data from eBird and other sources to show that at least some individuals do actually migrate, as they’re only present from November to May in some southern parts of their range.
Do candidate genes for migration and behavior explain migratory variation in bluebirds (Sialia spp.)?, by Drew Sauve, Catherine A. Dale, Anna Tigano, Laurene M. Ratcliffe, and Vicki L. Friesen. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133: 820–829.
Some Western Bluebirds migrate, and some don’t—and the difference may come down to genes. By comparing the genes of Western Bluebirds with those of Mountain Bluebirds, a related species in which all individuals migrate, these researchers found that a specific gene linked to personality may partially explain the propensity to migrate (or not) of individual Western Bluebirds.