Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 39–43 | Cite as

Homing behavior of wood thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina)

A radio tracking study
  • Kenneth P. Able
  • William F. Gergits
  • Jeffrey D. Cherry
  • Scott B. Terrill


Using the wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) as an example of a typical nocturnal migrant, we employed radio telemetry to follow breeding birds during the course of homing movements following displacements. Seven thrushes were displaced over distances of 6.5 to 17.3 km in a variety of directions from their nesting territories. The thrushes moved in a series of short flights (mean = 2.1 km) performed primarily at dawn. Consequently, the birds took several days to home from even these relatively short displacements. Thrushes flew under clear and solid overcast skies and even in light rain. The pooled individual flights of the birds were significantly oriented in the homeward direction (Fig. 2). Their orientation relative to home did not improve significantly as they progressed toward the goal. Three of the birds were documented to have returned to their home territories. The detailed tracks of the birds preclude the possibility that they homed by random search.


Random Search Breeding Bird Light Rain Radio Telemetry Homing Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth P. Able
    • 1
  • William F. Gergits
    • 1
  • Jeffrey D. Cherry
    • 1
  • Scott B. Terrill
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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