Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 427–433 | Cite as

Directional shifts in migration pattern of rollers (Coracias garrulus) from a western European population

  • Tamara Emmenegger
  • Patrick Mayet
  • Olivier Duriez
  • Steffen Hahn
Original Article

Abstract

Individual migrants often fly detours when travelling between breeding and non-breeding sites, resulting in specific changes in flight directions along a migratory leg. Western European populations of the European Roller (Coracias garrulus), the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe, differ substantially in their predicted flight directions, leading to different hypotheses being suggested for passage areas and non-breeding destinations. In this study we have tested the hypotheses on a western or eastern detour and different crossings of the Sahara desert by tracking European Rollers breeding in southern France using light-level geolocators. After the departure from the breeding site between mid and end July, the three European Rollers which were tracked crossed the Mediterranean and the Sahara desert heading in straight southern direction. When arriving in the Sahelian zone they abruptly changed their direction eastwards to circumvent the Gulf of Guinea and reached the western Lake Chad basin, where they made a final direction shift to reach the non-breeding sites in western Angola. Our findings support the hypothesis of a straight north–south Sahara crossing with subsequent directional shifts. Whether western Africa serves as the non-breeding residence of European Rollers from the Iberian Peninsula and northern Africa remains to be elucidated.

Keywords

Coracias garrulus Heading Light-level geolocation Long-distance migration Trans-Sahara 

Zusammenfassung

Änderungen der Zugrichtung in einer westeuropäischen Population der Blauracke (Coracias garrulus)

Auf ihrem Zug zwischen Brut- und Überwinterungsgebieten weichen Vögel oftmals von der direkten Route ab. Diese Abweichungen führen zu spezifischen Änderungen in der Flugrichtung. Für Blauracken (Coracias garrulus) der westeuropäischen Brutpopulationen existieren seit längerem verschiedene Hypothesen zur Lage der Durchzugs- und Überwinterungsgebiete, die sich deutlich in den zu erwarteten Zugrichtungen unterscheiden. Wir überprüften die Hypothesen eines östlichen, westlichen Umweges von der direkten Zugroute sowie verschiedener Formen der Saharaüberquerung mit Blauracken einer südfranzösischen Brutpopulation, die wir mit Geolokatoren ausgestattet hatten. Nach dem Verlassen des näheren Brutgebietes (etwa ab Mitte bis Ende Juli) überquerten die Blauracken das Mittelmeer und die Sahara in gerader südlicher Richtung. Nach Ankunft in der Sahelzone änderten die Vögel abrupt ihre Zugrichtung gegen Osten, umflogen so den Golf von Guinea, und erreichten den westlichen Teil des Tschadsee-Beckens. Hier änderten sie letztmalig ihre Zugrichtung um die Überwinterungsgebiete im westlichen Angola zu erreichen. Unsere Ergebnisse unterstützen die Hypothese einer geraden, in Nord-Süd-Richtung verlaufenden Querung der Sahara mit anschließenden Richtungswechseln. Ob Westafrika den Blauracken der iberischen oder nordafrikanischen Brutpopulationen als Wintergebiet dient, bleibt jedoch weiterhin offen.

Supplementary material

10336_2013_1023_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (171 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 171 kb)

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamara Emmenegger
    • 1
  • Patrick Mayet
    • 2
  • Olivier Duriez
    • 3
  • Steffen Hahn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Bird MigrationSwiss Ornithological InstituteSempachSwitzerland
  2. 2.Vic-La-GardioleFrance
  3. 3.Biogéographie et écologie des vertébrés, Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (UMR5175)Université Montpellier 2Montpellier cedex 5France

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