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Diffuse, short and slow migration among Blue Tits

Nilsson, Anna L. K., Alerstam, Thomas, Nilsson, Jan-Åke
Journal für Ornithologie 2008 v.149 no.3 pp. 365-373
Cyanistes caeruleus, adults, autumn, birds, breeding sites, juveniles, migratory behavior, spring, winter, Sweden
The knowledge of migration systems in long-distance regular migrants is in many cases extensive. Our understanding of the migratory characteristics of partial migrants, on the other hand, is far more rudimentary. We investigated migratory characteristics of partially migratory Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus using ringing recoveries of Swedish birds, to answer questions about geographic migration patterns, age-specific migrations, migration speeds and synchrony of movements. Median migration distance of Swedish Blue Tits was 82 km, with a main autumn direction in the sector between S and W (large directional scatter). Northerly and southerly populations did not differ in migration directions or distances, suggesting chain migration to be the general pattern. A larger proportion of adult Blue Tits remained near the breeding grounds during winter than was the case for juveniles. Some of the migrating birds (17%) seemed not to return in spring but stayed to breed closer to the winter area. Swedish Blue Tits show an exceptionally slow migration speed (median 13 km/day), among the slowest speeds recorded for any migrant bird. The Blue Tit represents an extreme case of diffuse, short and slow bird migration.