Tracking the Stejneger's stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri along the East Asian–Australian Flyway from Japan via China to southeast Asia
journal contributionposted on 2017-02-01, 00:00 authored by Y Yamaura, H Schmaljohann, Simeon LisovskiSimeon Lisovski, M Senzaki, K Kawamura, Y Fujimaki, F Nakamura
The East Asian–Australian Flyway spans from north Asia to Australia and is the world's richest birds' flyway because it involves > 40% of global migratory bird species. However, information is lacking on individual migratory routes and non-breeding grounds for small land birds using this flyway. Here, we present the first migration tracks of the songbird Stejneger's stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri from this part of the world using light-level geolocators. This species depends on grasslands during the entire annual cycle and was captured and equipped with tracking devices in Hokkaido, northern Japan. All individuals traveled through southern Primorye or eastern Heilongjiang (Russia/China) before flying southward via central China toward their major non-breeding grounds in southeast Asia (China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam). Individual stonechats spent 42–70 d en route during their autumn migration. Both the major non-breeding grounds and the stopover sites are likely to pose challenges to the persistence of this species, because these habitats are currently degraded and will likely be lost in the near future due to intensified agriculture and the establishment of permanent croplands. Moreover, the areas used by Stejneger's stonechat during migration largely overlapped with illegal trapping areas in northeastern China.