Tracking Long-Distance Songbird Migration by Using Geolocators

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Science  13 Feb 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5916, pp. 896
DOI: 10.1126/science.1166664

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We mapped migration routes of migratory songbirds to the Neotropics by using light-level geolocators mounted on breeding purple martins (Progne subis) and wood thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina). Wood thrushes from the same breeding population occupied winter territories within a narrow east-west band in Central America, suggesting high connectivity of breeding and wintering populations. Pace of spring migration was rapid (233 to 577 kilometers/day) except for one individual (159 kilometers/day) who took an overland route instead of crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Identifying songbird wintering areas and migration routes is critical for predicting demographic consequences of habitat loss and climate change in tropical regions.

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