, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 193–212 | Cite as

Relationships between behavior, physiology and weather in avian transients at a migration stopover site

  • John H. Rappole
  • Dwain W. Warner


Populations of avian transients were studied at a stopover area in southern Texas during four consecutive migration seasons, fall, 1973-spring, 1975. We captured individuals by mist net for banding and fat level determination. Concurrently we made observations on behavior of free-flying birds.

We worked intensively with a single species, the Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis) while gathering weight fat and behavioral data on other species as well. Many of the patterns of weight change and behavior seen in the Northern Waterthrush were observed in other common passerines which occurred as transients on our study site.

Results showed that birds in Zugstimmung and Zugdisposition differ, not only physiologically but behaviorally as well. Individuals of normally non-gregarious species that are in Zugstimmung are gregarious and stay in an area for only a short period. Their habitat needs are broad since these birds are not dependent on the food resources of the area in which they stop while in this physiological state. In contrast, normally non-gregarious migrants in Zugdisposition are hyperphagic and aggressively territorial in defense of resources and may stay at the same site for several days. Their habitat needs are quite specific since they must increase food intake by as much as 40% to build up fat reserves. Not all individuals in Zugdisposition are able to find territories at the same time. Those birds unable to claim territories either continue to migrate or stay in an area as floaters, continually attempting to obtain territories. Weather conditions probably act as a third variable that must be balanced by the individual in a complex optimization strategy with physiological state and success in competition.


Migration Food Resource Mist Behavioral Data Migration Season 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Rappole
    • 1
  • Dwain W. Warner
    • 1
  1. 1.Bell Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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