Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 915–921 | Cite as

Long-distance travellers stopover for longer: a case study with spoonbills staying in North Iberia

  • Juan G. NavedoEmail author
  • Germán Orizaola
  • José A. Masero
  • Otto Overdijk
  • Juan M. Sánchez-Guzmán
Original Article


Long-distance migration is widespread among birds, connecting breeding and wintering areas through a set of stopover localities where individuals refuel and/or rest. The extent of the stopover is critical in determining the migratory strategy of a bird. Here, we examined the relationship between minimum length of stay of PVC-ringed birds in a major stopover site and the remaining flight distance to the overwintering area in the Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea l. leucorodia) during four consecutive autumn migrations. We also analysed the potential effect of timing (arrival date), as well as the role of experience in explaining stopover duration of spoonbills. Overall, birds wintering in Africa, and facing long-distance travel from the stopover site (ca. 3,000 km) stay for longer (2.7 ± 0.4 days) than Iberian winterers (1.5 ± 0.2 days) that perform a much shorter migration (ca. 800 km). These differences were consistent between years. Stopover duration was not significantly affected by the age of the bird. However, there was a significant reduction as migration advanced. Our results suggest that spoonbills develop different stopover strategies depending on the expected distance to the wintering grounds. Adults, especially long-distance migratory ones, could reduce the potential negative effects of density-dependence processes by avoiding stopover at the end of the migration period. These findings are of significant relevance for understanding differences in migratory behaviour within single populations, especially for declining waterbirds, as well as stress the relevance of preserving stopover localities for the conservation of intraspecific diversity in migratory species.


Experience Intraspecific competition Migratory strategies Spoonbill Stopover duration Timing 



We thank Alejandro García-Herrera, Álvaro Bustamante, Máximo Sánchez-Cobo, Manuel A. Alcántara, Juan José Aja, Virginia Iturriaga and Ana Casero in addition to all the volunteers from the Spoonbill Migration Monitoring Program (SEO/BirdLife) for field assistance. Emma Dahl, Fernando Arce, Joaquín Bedia, Dra. Auxiliadora Villegas, Dr. Manuel Mota, Dr. Manuel Medina and an anonymous reviewer, helped to improve an earlier version of this manuscript. The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) and the Spanish National Parks Service provided us with logistic and financial support during the field work. JGN was currently supported by a postdoctoral fellowship of Plan Regional de Investigación (III PRI+D+I) of Junta de Extremadura.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan G. Navedo
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Germán Orizaola
    • 2
  • José A. Masero
    • 1
  • Otto Overdijk
    • 3
  • Juan M. Sánchez-Guzmán
    • 1
  1. 1.Conservation Biology Research Group, Área de ZoologíaUniversidad de ExtremaduraBadajozSpain
  2. 2.Population and Conservation Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.NatuurmonumentenWorking-Group Spoonbills InternationalSchiermonnikoogThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Unidad Académica Mazatlán, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMazatlánMéxico

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