Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 881–886 | Cite as

Repeated migration of a juvenile European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus

  • Ruben Evens
  • Natalie Beenaerts
  • Nele Witters
  • Tom Artois
Short Communication


Most of our current knowledge on migration strategies in juvenile light-weight birds originates from laboratory studies, displacement experiments and partial migration tracks. Here we report on the first recording of two consecutive migration cycles of one such light-weight migrant, the European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus. This bird visited the same stopover zones and wintering area in both years, but with earlier arrival times and less time spent at stopover zones in the second year. This unique dataset shows that adult nightjars seem to possess the capability to perform some form of navigation towards areas which are established during the juvenile migration.


Trans-equatorial solitary migrant Stopover sites Wintering areas Naïve migration Navigation Geolocator 


Wiederholter Zug eines juvenilen Ziegenmelkers Caprimulgus europaeus Der größte Teil unseres derzeitigen Wissens über Zugstrategien bei juvenilen Vögeln mit geringem Körpergewicht stammt aus Laboruntersuchungen, Verfrachtungsexperimenten und teilweiser Verfolgung der Zugwege. Hier beschreiben wir die erste Beobachtung zweier aufeinanderfolgender Migrationszyklen eines solchen juvenilen leichtgewichtigen Zugvogels, eines Ziegenmelkers Caprimulgus europaeus. Der Vogel besuchte in beiden Jahren dieselben Rast- und Überwinterungsgebiete; dabei kam er im zweiten Jahr früher an und verbrachte weniger Zeit in den Rastgebieten. Dieser einzigartige Datensatz zeigt, dass adulte Ziegenmelker die Fähigkeit zu besitzen scheinen, durch eine Art von Navigation Gebiete aufzusuchen, die sie als Jungvogel auf dem Zug kennengelernt haben.



We thank Luc Lens, Dries Gorissen, Guido Winters, Eddy Ulenaers, Karen Vanmarcke, Albert Geuens, Lyndon Kearsley, Greg Conway, Ian Henderson and Nikki Watson for their support and relevant comments on this manuscript. RE is funded by a BOF-mandate (BSFFCMKDK) at Hasselt University. NW is funded as a postdoctoral researcher by FWO Flanders. Research equipment was funded by the Agency for Nature and Forest (ANB) (Belgium). Permission for this study was granted by the ANB and Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Belgium), respectively.

Supplementary material

10336_2017_1459_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


  1. Åkesson S, Klaassen R, Holmgren J et al (2012) Migration routes and strategies in a highly aerial migrant, the common swift Apus apus, revealed by light-level geolocators. PLoS One 7:e41195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041195 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Beauchamp G (2011) Long-distance migrating species of birds travel in larger groups. Biol Lett 7:692–694. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0243 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Cresswell W (2014) Migratory connectivity of Palaearctic – African migratory birds and their responses to environmental change: the serial residency hypothesis. Ibis 156(3):493–510. doi: 10.1111/ibi.12168 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Evens R, Conway GJ, Henderson I et al (2017) Migratory pathways, stopover zones and wintering destinations of Western European nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus. Ibis (Lond 1859). doi: 10.1111/ibi.12469 Google Scholar
  5. Fox JW (2010) Geolocator manual v8. British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK. Accessed 18 Jan 2016
  6. Fusani L, Cardinale M, Carere C, Goymann W (2009) Stopover decision during migration: physiological conditions predict nocturnal restlessness in wild passerines. Biol Lett 5:302–305. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0755 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Gwinner E (2003) Circannual rhythms in birds. Curr Opin Neurobiol 13:770–778. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2003.10.010 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Lisovski S, Hahn S (2012) GeoLight–processing and analysing light-based geolocator data in R. Methods Ecol Evol 3:1055–1059. doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2012.00248.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McKinnon E, Fraser K, Stanley C, Stutchbury B (2014) Tracking from the tropics reveals behaviour of juvenile songbirds on their first spring migration. PLoS One 9:e105605. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105605 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Sergio F, Tanferna A, De Stephanis R et al (2014) Individual improvements and selective mortality shape lifelong migratory performance. Nature 515:410–413. doi: 10.1038/nature13696 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Stanley CQ, MacPherson M, Fraser KC et al (2012) Repeat tracking of individual songbirds reveals consistent migration timing but flexibility in route. PLoS One 7:e40688. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040688 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Studds CE, Marra PP (2011) Rainfall-induced changes in food availability modify the spring departure programme of a migratory bird. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 278:3437–3443. doi: 10.1098/rspb.201 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Thorup K, Ortvad TE, Rabøl J et al (2011) Juvenile songbirds compensate for displacement to oceanic islands during autumn migration. PLoS One 6:e17903. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017903 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Vega ML, Willemoes M, Thomson RL et al (2016) First-time migration in juvenile common cuckoos documented by satellite tracking. PLoS One 11:e0168940. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168940 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Willemoes M, Blas J, Wikelski M, Thorup K (2015) Flexible navigation response in common cuckoos Cuculus canorus displaced experimentally during migration. Sci Rep 5:16402. doi: 10.1038/srep16402 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruben Evens
    • 1
  • Natalie Beenaerts
    • 2
  • Nele Witters
    • 3
  • Tom Artois
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Group Zoology: Biodiversity and Toxicology, Centre for Environmental SciencesHasselt UniversityDiepenbeekBelgium
  2. 2.Research Group: Environmental Biology, Centre for Environmental SciencesHasselt UniversityDiepenbeekBelgium
  3. 3.Research Group: Environmental Economics, Centre for Environmental SciencesHasselt UniversityDiepenbeekBelgium

Personalised recommendations