Flexible migratory strategies are an advantage for birds

Avian species that can adapt their migration strategies cope better with environmental changes.

White stork on a rubbish dump
Some white stork populations have ceased to migrate, instead feeding year-round on rubbish dumps. © iStock


Birds with flexible migratory strategies are more resilient to environmental changes, according to new research.

“Bird declines are caused by various factors, from weather to habitat degradation,” said James Gilroy of the University of East Anglia. “Our results show that, on average, species that have diverse migratory strategies tend to cope better with these threats.”

Species that funnel into restricted areas for winter may be especially at risk.

Red-breasted geese, for example, have undergone worrying declines in Europe, said Gilroy, while the numbers of pink-footed geese wintering in the UK are on the increase.

“This shows that being inflexible does not necessarily place species at higher risk if they receive adequate protection at their wintering and stopover sites,” he added.

Source Ecology Letters

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