April 07, 2010
Why Ducks May No Longer Fly South
By Chad Love
Many southern waterfowlers can attest to the fact that season dates, especially early season openers, do not always translate into actual ducks. We may be sweating in our waders while the ducks are still living it up in their northern digs. If there's no reason to fly south, why do it, right? At least that's the finding of a recent study on bird migration.
From the story via Wired:
Birds may have an unexpected strategy for adapting to climate change. In addition to migrating at different times to newly hospitable locales, they may also shorten their migrations, expending energy on breeding and eating rather than flying. “There’s lots of data on bird arrival and bird breeding times, and that gives the impression that these are the most important phenomena,” said zoologist Francisco Pulido of the Complutense University of Madrid. The basic impulse to migrate is likely just as important, “but it’s been much more difficult to show, and so it hasn’t been appreciated,” he said.
Pulido and Max Planck Institute ornithologist Peter Berthold describe patterns found in 13 years of data from a southern German population of blackcaps, a common migratory songbird, in a study published April 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As temperatures in central Europe have risen, blackcaps have arrived earlier at summertime breeding areas and departed later for their winter homes. Some researchers have predicted blackcaps would also migrate over ever-shorter distances, and in some cases stop altogether, allowing them to save energy and concentrate on finding food and mates. But this hadn’t been tested.
So waterfowlers, did you notice any unusual migration patterns (or lack thereof) this past season?