, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 687-694
Date: 10 Mar 2010

Advanced departure dates in long-distance migratory raptors

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Abstract

Evidences for phenological changes in response to climate change are now numerous. One of the most documented changes has been the advance of spring arrival dates in migratory birds. However, the effects of climate change on subsequent events of the annual cycle remain poorly studied and understood. Moreover, the rare studies on autumn migration have mainly concerned passerines. Here, we investigated whether raptor species have changed their autumn migratory phenology during the past 30 years at one of the most important convergent points of western European migration routes in France, the Organbidexka pass, in the Western Pyrenees. Eight out of the 14 studied raptor species showed significant phenological shifts during 1981–2008. Long-distance migrants displayed stronger phenological responses than short-distance migrants, and advanced their mean passage dates significantly. As only some short-distance migrants were found to delay their autumn migration and as their trends in breeding and migrating numbers were not significantly negative, we were not able to show any possible settling process of raptor populations. Negative trends in numbers of migrating raptors were found to be related to weaker phenological responses. Further studies using data from other migration sites are necessary to investigate eventual changes in migration routes and possible settling process.

Communicated by F. Bairlein.