6 May 2019 Coastal songbird condition on migratory stopover varies by geographical location and bird age
Jennifer D. McCabe, Adrienne J. Leppold, Rebecca L. Holberton, Brian J. Olsen
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The period of migration can pose significant energetic challenges as birds attempt to reach their destinations. Suitable stopover habitat is, therefore, important to the success of migrating individuals, especially as they move along major migration corridors and geographic features, like coastlines. In this study, we used metrics of individual body condition (i.e. fat score, size-corrected body mass, and refueling rate) of fall migrants as they moved across the Gulf of Maine region, a complex coastal landscape. We investigated the extent to which these body condition indices varied by stopover site geography (island vs. mainland) and how these spatial patterns varied with species-specific characteristics such as migratory distance, foraging guild, and age. Geography was an important factor explaining variation in all 3 condition indices, and age explained additional variance in 2 of the 3. In general, individuals captured on islands exhibited significantly lower energetic condition than individuals on the mainland, and this pattern held true across all migratory strategies and foraging guilds. Immature individuals had, on average, lower energy reserves, with less fat and lower size-corrected mass than adults among all stopover sites. We also found that at all sites, size-corrected body mass, on average, significantly increased over the capture day, providing evidence that both island and mainland sites provided energetically beneficial stopover habitat. Our finding that birds offshore are in lower body condition at capture than those along the coast is suggestive that birds use mainland sites for longer stopover bouts than island sites, or that poorer condition birds reorient to land during over-water movements disproportionately use off-shore islands as their initial landing area. Decreases in either island or mainland stopover site availability or quality may affect individual fitness, with population-level consequences, but through different ways.

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Jennifer D. McCabe, Adrienne J. Leppold, Rebecca L. Holberton, and Brian J. Olsen "Coastal songbird condition on migratory stopover varies by geographical location and bird age," The Auk 136(3), 1-13, (6 May 2019). https://doi.org/10.1093/auk/ukz025
Received: 20 September 2018; Accepted: 6 March 2019; Published: 6 May 2019
body condition
coastal migration
Gulf of Maine
site quality
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