Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Migratory Route Of Eleonora's Falcon Revealed For First Time

Date:
October 27, 2009
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
Satellite tracking has allowed a research team to uncover the mysteries of the migration of Eleanora's falcon for the first time. In total, the bird flies more than 9,500 kilometers across the African continent from the Balearic and Columbretes Islands before reaching the island of Madagascar. Some of the previously-obscure secrets now revealed by the scientists show that these falcons migrate by both day and night, and cross supposed ecological barriers such as the Sahara Desert.

An Eleonora's Falcon with tracking device.
Credit: Pacual López/ SINC

Satellite tracking has allowed a research team to uncover the mysteries of the migration of Eleanora's falcon for the first time. In total, the bird flies more than 9,500 kilometres across the African continent from the Balearic and Columbretes Islands before reaching the island of Madagascar. Some of the previously-obscure secrets now revealed by the scientists show that these falcons migrate by both day and night, and cross supposed ecological barriers such as the Sahara Desert.

Until recently, the scientific community had almost no knowledge of the biology and life strategies of Eleanora's falcon (Falco eleonorae), a migratory bird of prey with low population numbers that nests on marine islands. However, researchers from the Universities of Valencia (UV) and Alicante (UA) tagged 11 individuals (7 adults and 4 chicks) in the colonies of the Balearic Islands between 2007 and 2008 and in the Columbretes Islands in the province of Castellón in 2008, with a further five individuals tagged in 2009.

"This represents a landmark in the study of this species, because to date nobody had been able to catch any Eleanora's falcon individuals and tag them using satellite technology anywhere in their colonies in the western Mediterranean," Pascual López, a researcher at the UV and lead author of the study, which has been published recently in the journal Zoological Studies, tells SINC.

The tagged falcons started their migration of more than 9,500 kilometres in the autumns of 2007 and 2008, travelling from the Balearic Islands to Madagascar. The new discovery made by this study was that the falcons do not fly over the waters of the Mediterranean and along the East African coast, but instead cross straight over the African continent.

The satellite tracking data have also shown that "Eleonora's falcons can migrate by both day and night (a new discovery among birds of prey of their genus), and cross supposed ecological barriers such as the Sahara Desert, the Equator and extensive stretches of open sea in the Indian Ocean," points out López.

During the two-month migration undertaken by the falcons in order to winter in Madagascar, the biologists received hundreds of position signals for the adults (throughout 10 countries) and the juveniles (in 14 countries). Their migratory route to return to Europe in the spring once again crosses the African continent, "but they follow a completely different path from that used for the autumn migration, flying for more than 1,500km non-stop over the Indian Ocean from Madagascar to Somalia, a phenomenon that has never before been described in birds of prey of this genus, and which pushes them to the limits of their physiological capacity ," says the researcher.

A very special bird

Some of the peculiarities of this bird of prey, which migrates over long distances and evolved only recently, include "a reproductive cycle adapted to the migration of other bird species, starting at the end of the summer and not in the spring (the latest among all European birds of prey). This makes it a model organism for looking into questions about its phylogeography and evolution," adds López, who also wants to find out how the Eleonora's falcons manage to navigate during such a long journey.

Eleonora's falcon was named after Giudicessa Eleonora de Arborea (1350-1404), a Sardinian princess who fought for Sardinia's independence from the Kingdom of Aragon, and who drafted the first laws in Europe protecting birds of prey.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. López-López, Pascual; Limiñana, Rubén; Urios, Vicente. Autumn Migration of Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae Tracked by Satellite Telemetry. Zoological Studies, 48(4): 485-491, julio de 2009

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Migratory Route Of Eleonora's Falcon Revealed For First Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016093927.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2009, October 27). Migratory Route Of Eleonora's Falcon Revealed For First Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016093927.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Migratory Route Of Eleonora's Falcon Revealed For First Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016093927.htm (accessed October 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) — Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) — With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Buzz60 (Oct. 16, 2014) — Garfi is one frowny, feisty feline - downright angry! Ko Im (@koimtv) introduces us to the latest animal celebrity taking over the Internet. You can follow more of Garfi's adventures on Twitter (@MeetGarfi) and Facebook (Garfi). 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