Migrating swans profit from favourable changes in wind conditions at low altitude

Klaassen, Marcel, Beekman, Jan H., Kontiokorpi, Jari, Mulder, Roef J. W. and Nolet, Bart A. 2004, Migrating swans profit from favourable changes in wind conditions at low altitude, Journal of ornithology, vol. 145, no. 2, pp. 142-151, doi: 10.1007/s10336-004-0025-x.

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Title Migrating swans profit from favourable changes in wind conditions at low altitude
Author(s) Klaassen, MarcelORCID iD for Klaassen, Marcel orcid.org/0000-0003-3907-9599
Beekman, Jan H.
Kontiokorpi, Jari
Mulder, Roef J. W.
Nolet, Bart A.
Journal name Journal of ornithology
Volume number 145
Issue number 2
Start page 142
End page 151
Total pages 10
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 2004-04
ISSN 0021-8375
Keyword(s) Bewick's swan
Cygnus columbianus bewickii
Flight altitude
Satellite transmitters
Tailwind vector
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Summary Because energy reserves limit flight range, wind assistance may be of crucial importance for migratory birds. We tracked eight Bewick's swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii, using 95-g satellite transmitters with altimeters and activity sensors, during their spring migration from Denmark to northern Russia in 1996. During the 82 occasions where a swan's location was recorded in flight, average flight altitude was 165 m a.s.1. with a maximum of 759 m a.s.1., despite winds often being more favourable at higher altitudes. We also counted Bewick's swans departing from the Gulf of Finland and subsequently passing an observatory in the next major stop-over area 800 km further north in the White Sea, northern Russia, during the springs of 1994, 1995 and 1996. A comparison of these counts with wind data provided evidence for Bewick's swans using favourable changes in wind conditions to embark on migration. Changes in the numbers of birds arriving in the White Sea correlated best with favourable changes in winds in the Gulf of Finland 1 day earlier. Again, migratory volume showed a correlation with winds at low altitudes only, despite wind conditions for the swans being more favourable at high altitudes. We conclude that the relatively large Bewick's swan tends to gear its migration to wind conditions at low altitude only. We argue that Bewick's swans do not climb to high altitudes because of mechanical and physiological limitations with respect to the generation of power for flight and to avoid rapid dehydration.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s10336-004-0025-x
Field of Research 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2004, Springer
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30075848

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