Differential timing of spring migration in northern wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe: hurried males or weak females?

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Science Article 2


In a field experiment on the island of Helgoland (southeast North Sea), we investigated whether migration strategy or competition between the sexes cause the differential timing of spring migration of male and female northern wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) (males migrating earlier). The study included two subspecies, heading towards Greenland/Iceland and Scandinavia, respectively, and is based on colour-ringing and remote weighing of individuals. Despite food offered ad libitum, most Scandinavian birds left the island on the day of arrival or stayed only 1-3 days, whereas more than half of Greenlandic/Icelandic birds stayed for up to 12 days and refuelled rapidly. In the latter subspecies, males showed a positive correlation of departure fuel load and fuel deposition rate, resembling time-minimizers in optimal migration theory

Volker Dierschke, Bettina Mendel, Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2005) 57:470-480

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