Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Migrating birds chill to fatten up

Date:
September 11, 2009
Source:
Journal of Experimental Biology
Summary:
Most migrating birds can't carry enough fuel to reach their destinations, so refuel en route. However the aviators expend twice as much energy during stopovers as they use in transit. Wondering whether migrating blackcaps save energy by dropping their body temperature during stopovers, researchers measured the bird's temperatures as they refuelled and found that they drop their body temperatures at night by up to 30 percent to conserve energy and fatten faster.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) male.
Credit: iStockphoto/Andrew Howe

Marathon runners are famed for pasta packing in the days before a big run but when tiny passerine birds set out on their epic migrations, the distances are too great to cover on the energy reserves with which they embark.

Related Articles


Michał Wojciechowski and Berry Pinshow explain that most birds stop off en route to their destination to refuel. One of the Eurasian blackcaps' preferred refuelling stops is Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel, where the birds fill up on fruit and insects before setting off again. Knowing that birds expend twice as much energy during stopovers than they use in transit, the duo wondered whether the tiny aviators drop their body temperature at night during stopovers to save energy and build up their reserves faster.

They publish this discovery on 11 September 2009 in The Journal of Experimental Biology at http://jeb.biologists.org.

Collecting migrating blackcaps at their stopover site on the Sede Boqer Campus of Ben-Gurion University and near Toron, Poland, Wojciechowski and Pinshow weighed the birds and monitored their body temperatures and metabolic rates as the birds stocked up on fruit supplemented with mealworms. During the day the birds' body temperatures hovered around 42.5C, but as dusk fell, their temperatures began to drop. The average normal body temperature at night was about 38.8C, while one particularly skinny individual's temperature plummeted to 33C. And when the team plotted the birds' body masses against their nocturnal temperatures, the smaller birds' (< 16.3g) temperatures correlated with their body masses.

Finally, the team looked at the relationship between the birds' temperatures and their metabolic rates and found that the heavier birds dropped their metabolic rates least, while the lightest birds dropped their metabolic rates most. Some conserved a remarkable 30% of their energy by becoming hypothermic.

Knowing that small birds also conserve energy by huddling together for warmth, Wojciechowski and Pinshow suggest that migrating birds may combine both strategies to shorten refuelling stopovers to fatten up fast before hastening on their way.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Experimental Biology. The original article was written by Kathryn Knight. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wojciechowski, M. S. and Pinshow, B. Heterothermy in small, migrating passerine birds during stopover: use of hypothermia at rest accelerates fuel accumulation. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2009; 212 (19): 3068 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.033001

Cite This Page:

Journal of Experimental Biology. "Migrating birds chill to fatten up." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090911072625.htm>.
Journal of Experimental Biology. (2009, September 11). Migrating birds chill to fatten up. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090911072625.htm
Journal of Experimental Biology. "Migrating birds chill to fatten up." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090911072625.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins