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Variety in the migratory behaviour of blackcaps


Through a large-scale study with so-called geolocators, researchers led by Miriam Liedvogel of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, were able to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding the phenomenon of the blackcap’s bird migration

Many species of birds have always migrated south in the fall to spend the winter there, including the small blackcap, which often weighs only a few grams and yet covers thousands of kilometres. However, changes in our landscapes and climate change are not leaving migratory birds unaffected. They change their behaviour, the destinations of their journey, the time of their departure or even the decision whether to fly away at all. So far, these habits have been studied either experimentally with birds in captivity or by irregular recaptures of ringed birds.

A group of international researchers led by Miriam Liedvogel from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön has now for the first time conducted a large-scale study with geolocators. These are ultra-light, tiny devices that are attached to the backs of free-flying birds and record the light intensity with exact time data. After the birds have been caught again, the respective flight route can be calculated exactly. Altogether the scientists could document and analyse the migrations of 100 individual birds. MORE

Header image: © Ben Porter.