, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 370-379

Interaction of bodymass, fat, foraging and stopover period in trans-Sahara migrating passerine birds

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The effect of body mass and fat reserves on the choice of the stopover place and on the stopover period was investigated in 3 species of passerine birds migrating through the Sahara in Egypt. Birds grounded in an oasis with food and water were more than 10% lighter than those from a desert stopover place which offered shade only. Stopover period was in general one day except for the light portion of oasis birds which stopped for up to three weeks during which they regained fat. A calculation of the maximum range which can be covered with the available fat depots revealed that nearly all birds from the desert stopover place should be able to cross the desert whereas about 60% of the oasis birds should not. An intermittant migratory strategy for the desert crossing is proposed with flight during the night and stopover during the day, even without drinking and feeding.