Oecologia

, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 483–488 | Cite as

Population differentiation of migratory directions in birds: comparison between ringing results and orientation behaviour of hand-raised migrants

  • Andreas J. Helbig
Original Papers

Summary

Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) from five areas in Central Europe were hand-raised. Their autumn migratory orientation was tested in funnel-shaped cages. Their directional choices were compared to recoveries of conspecifics ringed during the breeding season in the same areas, which are situated on a transect across a migratory divide between southeastward and southwestward migrating populations. Results from ringing and orientation tests were in good agreement with respect to mean direction and dispersion of flight directions. An exception is the area around Linz (NW Austria), right on the migratory divide, where ringing yielded a strong scatter, but hand-raised birds chose westerly directions. The recent establishment of a novel migration route toward the British Isles was reflected in both data sets: in southern Germany the percentage of northwestward migrants is 6.8% according to orientation tests and 11.8% according to ringing recoveries. Testing the orientation of young passerines in captivity can yield valuable information about population differentiation of migratory behaviour. It is more efficient than ringing in this respect, because it circumvents the low recovery rates and is free of biases affecting ringing data. In the blackcap, geographic differentiation of migratory directions occurs on a finer scale than previously recognized and can change significantly within 2–3 decades.

Key words

Population differentiation Bird migration Orientation Sylvia atricapilla 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas J. Helbig
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Pharmazeutische BiologieUniversität HeidelbergHeidelbergFederal Republic of Germany

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