Stopover departure decisions in songbirds: do long-distance migrants depart earlier and more independently of weather conditions than medium distance migrants?

  • March 13, 2020
  • by Florian Packmor, Thomas Klinner, Bradley K. Woodworth, Cas Eikenaar & Heiko Schmaljohann


Songbirds following distinct migration strategies (e.g. long- vs. short- to medium-distance migrants) often differ in their speed of migration during autumn and, thus, are assumed to face different time constraints. During migration, most songbird species alternate migratory flights with stopover periods. Many of them restrict these migratory flights to the night, i.e., they are nocturnal migrants. At stopover, nocturnal migrants need to select a specific night (night-to-night decision) and time of night (within-night decision) to resume migration. These departure decisions, which largely determine the speed of migration, are jointly affected by a set of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, i.e., departure cues. Here we aim to assess whether the set of intrinsic and extrinsic factors and the magnitude of their respective effects on stopover departure decisions differs between nocturnally migrating songbird species, depending on their migration strategy and associated time constraints.