Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access February 13, 2020

Comparing fall migration of three Catharus species using a radio-telemetry network

  • Camille Bégin Marchand EMAIL logo , André Desrochers , Junior A. Tremblay and Pascal Côté
From the journal Animal Migration


Migration routes vary greatly among small passerine species and populations. It is now possible to determine the routes over great distances and long periods of time with emerging monitoring networks. We tracked individual Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) and Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) in northeastern Quebec and compared their migration routes and paces across an array of radio-telelemetry stations in North America. Swainson’s Thrush migrated further inland than the other two species. Individuals from all three species slowed their migration pace in the southeastern United States, and Swainson’s Thrush was more likely to stopover than Bicknell’s Thrush. Although individuals were tagged in a small area within or close to their breeding range, the results document the variability of migration routes between species with similar ecological characteristics and provide detailed material to be used for migration studies with broader taxonomic or ecological scope.


[1] Berthold P., Bird Migration: a General Survey. Second edition., Oxford Orn, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001Search in Google Scholar

[2] Berthold P., Helbig A.J., The genetics of bird migration: stimulus, timing, and direction, Ibis (Lond. 1859)., 1992, 134, 35–4010.1111/j.1474-919X.1992.tb04731.xSearch in Google Scholar

[3] Pulido F., The Genetics and Evolution of Avian Migration, Bio Sci., 2007, 57, 165–17410.1641/B570211Search in Google Scholar

[4] Pulido F., Coppack T., Berthold P., Genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity may explain adaptive changes in the timing of autumn migration, Ring, 2001, 23Search in Google Scholar

[5] Ruegg K.C., Smith T.B., Not as the crow flies: a historical explanation for circuitous migration in Swainson’s thrush (Catharus ustulatus), Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci., 2002, 269, 1375–138110.1098/rspb.2002.2032Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[6] Delmore K.E., Fox J.W., Irwin D.E., Dramatic intraspecific differences in migratory routes, stopover sites and wintering areas, revealed using light-level geolocators., Proc. Biol. Sci., 2012, 279, 4582–910.1098/rspb.2012.1229Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[7] Hobson K.A., Van Wilgenburg S.L., Dunn E.H., Hussell D.J.T., Taylor P.D., Collister D.M., Predicting origins of passerines migrating through Canadian migration monitoring stations using stable-hydrogen isotope analyses of feathers: a new tool for bird conservation, Avian Conserv. Ecol., 2015, 1010.5751/ACE-00719-100103Search in Google Scholar

[8] Dunn E.H., Hobson K.A., Wassenaar L.I., Hussell D.J.T., Allen M.L., Identification of summer origins of songbirds migrating through Southern Canada in autumn, Avian Conserv. Ecol., 2006, 1, 410.5751/ACE-00048-010204Search in Google Scholar

[9] Stanley C.Q., Mckinnon E.A., Fraser K.C., Macpherson M.P., Casbourn G., Friesen L., et al., Connectivity of wood thrush breeding, wintering, and migration sites based on range-wide tracking, Conserv. Biol., 2015, 29, 164–17410.1111/cobi.12352Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[10] Cárdenas-Ortiz L., Bayly N.J., Colorado G.J., Hobson K.A., Fall migration and breeding origins of Canada Warblers moving through northern Colombia, J. F. Ornithol., 2017, 88, 53–6410.1111/jofo.12186Search in Google Scholar

[11] Mönkkönen M., Do migrant birds have more pointed wings?: A comparative study, Evol. Ecol., 1995, 9, 520–52810.1007/BF01237833Search in Google Scholar

[12] Arizaga J., Campos F., Alonso D., Variations in wing morphology among subspecies might reflect different migration distances in Bluethroat, Ornis Fenn., 2006, 83, 162–169Search in Google Scholar

[13] Bowlin M.S., Sex, wingtip shape, and wing-loading predic arrival date at stopover site in the Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), Auk, 2007, 124, 1388–139610.1093/auk/124.4.1388Search in Google Scholar

[14] Gómez C., Guerrero S.L., FitzGerald A.M., Bayly N.J., Hobson K.A., Cadena C.D., Range-wide populations of a long-distance migratory songbird converge during stopover in the tropics, Ecol. Monogr., 2019, 89, 1–1510.1002/ecm.1349Search in Google Scholar

[15] Buehler D.M., Piersma T., Travelling on a budget: Predictions and ecological evidence for bottlenecks in the annual cycle of long-distance migrants, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci., 2008, 363, 247–26610.1098/rstb.2007.2138Search in Google Scholar

[16] Robinson W.D., Bowlin M.S., Bisson I., Shamoun-Baranes J., Thorup K., Diehl R.H., et al., Integrating concepts and technologies to advance the study of bird migration, Front. Ecol. Environ., 2010, 8, 354–36110.1890/080179Search in Google Scholar

[17] Mckinnon E.A., Love O.P., Ten years tracking the migrations of small landbirds: Lessons learned in the golden age of bio-logging, 2018, 135, 834–85610.1642/AUK-17-202.1Search in Google Scholar

[18] Newton I., The Migration Ecology of Birds, Academic P, London, 2008Search in Google Scholar

[19] Galbraith C.A., Stroud D.A., Colquhoun I., Scott D.A., Underhill L.G., Waterbirds around the world-A gloanl overview of the conservation management and research of the world´s waterbrid flyways, 2006, 940Search in Google Scholar

[20] Klaassen R.H.G., Hake M., Strandberg R., Koks B.J., Trierweiler C., Exo K.M., et al., When and where does mortality occur in migratory birds? Direct evidence from long-term satellite tracking of raptors, J. Anim. Ecol., 2014, 83, 176–18410.1111/1365-2656.12135Search in Google Scholar

[21] DeLuca W. V., Woodworth B.K., Rimmer C.C., Marra P.P., Taylor P.D., McFarland K.P., et al., Transoceanic migration by a 12 g songbird, Biol. Lett., 2015, 11, 20141045–2014104510.1098/rsbl.2014.1045Search in Google Scholar

[22] Stutchbury B.J.M., Tarof S.A., Done T., Gow E., Kramer P.M., Tautin J., et al., Tracking long-distance songbird migration by using geolocators, Science (80-. )., 2009, 323, 89610.1126/science.1166664Search in Google Scholar

[23] Noreau F., Desrochers A., Combined effects of migration distance, foraging method vegetation, density, and population density on wing shapes of boreal songbirds, BioRxiv, 201810.1101/413351Search in Google Scholar

[24] Cochran W.W., Orientation and other migratory behaviours of a Swainson’s thrush followed for 1500 km, Anim. Behav., 1987, 35, 927–92910.1016/S0003-3472(87)80132-XSearch in Google Scholar

[25] Taylor P.D., Crewe T.L., Mackenzie S.A., Lepage D., Aubry Y., Crysler Z.J., et al., The Motus Wildlife Tracking System: A collaborative research network to enhance the understanding of wildlife movement, Avian Conserv. Ecol., 2017, Submitted10.5751/ACE-00953-120108Search in Google Scholar

[26] Gómez C., Bayly N.J., Norris D.R., Mackenzie S.A., Rosenberg K. V., Taylor P.D., et al., Fuel loads acquired at a stopover site influence the pace of intercontinental migration in a boreal songbird, Sci. Rep., 2017, Accepted, 00–0010.1038/s41598-017-03503-4Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[27] Smetzer J.R., King D.I., Taylor P.D., Fall migratory departure decisions and routes of blackpoll warblers Setophaga striata and red-eyed vireos Vireo olivaceus at a coastal barrier in the Gulf of Maine, J. Avian Biol., 2017, 48, 1451–146110.1111/jav.01450Search in Google Scholar

[28] Baldwin J.W., Leap K., Finn J.T., Smetzer J.R., Bayesian state-space models reveal unobserved off-shore nocturnal migration from Motus data, Ecol. Modell., 2018, 386, 38–4610.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.08.006Search in Google Scholar

[29] Woodworth B.K., Mitchell G.W., Norris D.R., Francis C.M., Taylor P.D., Patterns and correlates of songbird movements at an ecological barrier during autumn migration assessed using landscape- and regional-scale automated radiotelemetry, Ibis (Lond. 1859)., 2015, 157, 326–33910.1111/ibi.12228Search in Google Scholar

[30] Mills A.M., Thurber B.G., Mackenzie S.A., Taylor P.D., Passerines use nocturnal flights for landscape-scale movements during migration stopover, Condor, 2011, 113, 597–60710.1525/cond.2011.100186Search in Google Scholar

[31] Taylor P.D., Mackenzie S.A., Thurber B.G., Calvert A.M., Mills A.M., McGuire L.P., et al., Landscape movements of migratory birds and bats reveal an expanded scale of stopover, PLoS One, 2011, 610.1371/journal.pone.0027054Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[32] Townsend J.M., McFarland K.P., Rimmer C.C., Ellison W.G., Goetz J.E., Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli), Birds North Am. Online, 201510.2173/bna.592Search in Google Scholar

[33] Whitaker D.M., Warkentin I.G., McDermott J.P.B., Lowther P.E., Rimmer C.C., Kessel B., et al., Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus), Birds North Am. Online, 201810.2173/bna.gycthr.02Search in Google Scholar

[34] Mack D.E., Yong W., Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), Birds North Am. Online, 200010.2173/bna.540Search in Google Scholar

[35] Bowlin M.S., Cochran W.W., Wikelski M.C., Biotelemetry of New World thrushes during migration: Physiology, energetics and orientation in the wild, Integr. Comp. Biol., 2005, 45, 295–30410.1093/icb/45.2.295Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[36] Cochran W.W., Wikelski M.C., Individual Migratory Tactics of New World Catharus Thrushes, In: Greenberg, R., Marra, P.P. (Eds.), Birds of Two Worlds. The Ecology and Evolution of Migration, The Johns, Baltimore, Maryland, 2005, 274–289Search in Google Scholar

[37] Gómez C., Bayly N.J., Rosenberg K. V., Fall stopover strategies of three species of thrush (Catharus) in northern South America, Auk, 2014, 131, 702–71710.1642/AUK-14-56.1Search in Google Scholar

[38] FitzGerald A.M., Division within the North American boreal forest : Ecological niche divergence between the Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) and Gray cheeked Thrush (C. minimus), Ecol. Evol., 2017, 1–1110.1002/ece3.3080Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[39] McFarland K.P., Rimmer C.C., Goetz J.E., Aubry Y., Wunderle J.M., Sutton A., et al., A winter distribution model for Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli), a conservation tool for a threatened migratory songbird., PLoS One, 2013, 8, e5398610.1371/journal.pone.0053986Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[40] Émile Brisson-Curadeau, Elliott K.H., Côté P., Factors influencing fall departure phenology in migratory birds that bred in northeastern North America, Auk, 2019, 137, 1–1410.1093/auk/ukz064Search in Google Scholar

[41] Streby H.M., McAllister T.L., Peterson S.M., Kramer G.R., Lehman J.A., Andersen D.E., Minimizing marker mass and handling time when attaching radio-transmitters and geolocators to small songbirds, Condor, 2015, 117, 249–25510.1650/CONDOR-14-182.1Search in Google Scholar

[42] Rappole J.H., Tipton A., New Harness Design for Attachment of Radio Transmitters to Small Passerines, J. F. Ornithol., 1991, 62, 335–337Search in Google Scholar

[43] Powell L.A., Krementz D.G., Lang J.D., Conroy M.J., Effects of radio transmitters on migrating Wood Thrushes, J. F. Ornithol., 1998, 69, 306–315Search in Google Scholar

[44] Townsend J.M., Rimmer C.C., McFarland K.P., Radio-transmitters do not affect seasonal mass change or annual survival of wintering Bicknell’s Thrushes, J. F. Ornithol., 2012, 83, 295–30110.1111/j.1557-9263.2012.00378.xSearch in Google Scholar

[45] Crewe T.L., Crysler Z.J., Taylor P.D., Motus R Book, 2018Search in Google Scholar

[46] Legendre P., Legendre L., Numerical Ecology, Elsevier, 2012Search in Google Scholar

[47] Cooper N.W., Ewert D.N., Hall K.R., Rockwell S.M., Currie D., Wunderle, Jr. J.M., et al., Resighting data reveal weak connectivity from wintering to breeding grounds in a range-restricted and endangered long-distance migratory passerine, Avian Conserv. Ecol., 2018, 13, art910.5751/ACE-01159-130109Search in Google Scholar

[48] Ambrosini R., Møller A.P., Saino N., A quantitative measure of migratory connectivity, J. Theor. Biol., 2009, 257, 203–21110.1016/j.jtbi.2008.11.019Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[49] Goslee S.C., Correlation analysis of dissimilarity matrices, Plant Ecol., 2010, 206, 279–28610.1007/s11258-009-9641-0Search in Google Scholar

[50] Oksanen J., Blanchet G.F., Friendly M., Kindt R., Legendre P., McGlinn D., et al., vegan: Community Ecology Package. R package version 2.5-4., 2019Search in Google Scholar

[51] Fox J., Weisberg S., An {R} Companion to Applied Regression, Second Edition., Thousand O, 2011Search in Google Scholar

[52] Bruderer B., Liechti F., Flight behavior of nocturnally migratiung birds in coastal areas - crossing or coasting, J. Avian Biol., 1998, 29, 499–50710.2307/3677169Search in Google Scholar

[53] Bruderer B., Liechti F., Direction, speed and composition of nocturnal bird migration in the south of Israel, Isr. J. Zool., 1995, 41, 501–515Search in Google Scholar

[54] Webster M.S., Marra P.P., Haig S.M., Bensch S., Holmes R.T., Links between worlds: Unraveling migratory connectivity, Trends Ecol. Evol., 2002, 17, 76–8310.1016/S0169-5347(01)02380-1Search in Google Scholar

[55] Whitaker D.M., Warkentin I.G., Hobson K.A., Thomas P., Boardman R., Fall and winter movements of Newfoundland Gray-cheeked Thrushes (Catharus minimus minimus), Anim. Migr., 2018, 42–4810.1515/ami-2018-0004Search in Google Scholar

[56] Moore F.R., Age-Dependent Variability in the Migratory Orientation of the Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) Author (s): Frank R. Moore Source : The Auk, Vol. 101, No. 4 (Oct., 1984), pp. 875-880 Published by : American Ornithological Society S, Auk, 1984, 101, 875–880Search in Google Scholar

[57] Ralph C.J., Age ratios and their possible use in determining autumn routes of passerine migrants, Wilson Bull., 1981, 93, 164–188Search in Google Scholar

[58] Crysler Z.J., Ronconi R.A., Taylor P.D., Differential fall migratory routes of adult and juvenile Ipswich Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis princeps), Mov. Ecol., 2016, 4, 310.1186/s40462-016-0067-8Search in Google Scholar

[59] Brown J., Taylor P.D., Adult and hatch-year Blackpoll Warblers exhibit radically different regional-scale movements during post-fledging dispersal, Biol. Lett., 2015, 00–0010.1098/rsbl.2015.0593Search in Google Scholar

[60] Tøttrup A.P., Thorup K., Sex-differentiated migration patterns, protandry and phenology in North European songbird populations, J. Ornithol., 2008, 149, 161–16710.1007/s10336-007-0254-xSearch in Google Scholar

[61] Deutschlander M.E., Muheim R., Fuel reserves affect migratory orientation of thrushes and sparrows both before and after crossing an ecological barrier near their breeding grounds, J. Avian Biol., 2009, 40, 85–8910.1111/j.1600-048X.2008.04343.xSearch in Google Scholar

[62] Bayly N.J., Gómez C., Hobson K.A., Energy reserves stored by migrating Gray-cheeked Thrushes Catharus minimus at a spring stopover site in northern Colombia are sufficient for a long-distance flight to North America, Ibis (Lond. 1859)., 2013, 155, 271–28310.1111/ibi.12029Search in Google Scholar

[63] Brooks M., The Allegheny Mountains as a Barrier to Bird Movement, Auk, 1952, 69, 192–19810.2307/4081269Search in Google Scholar

[64] Williams T.C., Williams J.M., Williams P.G., Stokstad P., Bird Migration Through A Mountain Pass Studied With High Resolution Radar, Ceilometers, And Census, Auk, 2001, 118, 389–40310.1093/auk/118.2.389Search in Google Scholar

[65] Mabee T., Cooper B., Plissner J., Young D., Nocturnal bird migration over an Appalachian ridge at a proposed wind power project, Wildl. Soc. Bull., 2006, 34, 682–69010.2193/0091-7648(2006)34[682:NBMOAA]2.0.CO;2Search in Google Scholar

[66] Ellegren H., Speed of migration and migratory flight lengths of passerine birds ringed during autumn migration in Sweden, Ornis Scand., 1993, 24, 220–22810.2307/3676737Search in Google Scholar

[67] Schaub M., Jenni L., Variation of fuelling rates among sites, days and individuals in migrating passerine birds, 200110.1046/j.0269-8463.2001.00568.xSearch in Google Scholar

[68] Mehlman D.W., Mabey S.E., Ewert D.N., Duncan C., Abel B., Cimbrich D., et al., Conserving stopover sites for forest-dwelling migratory landbirds, Auk, 2005, 122, 1281–129010.1093/auk/122.4.1281Search in Google Scholar

[69] Bayly N.J., Rosenberg K. V., Easton W.E., Gómez C., Carlisle J., Ewert D.N., et al., Major stopover regions and migratory bottlenecks for Nearctic-Neotropical landbirds within the Neotropics: A review, Bird Conserv. Int., 2018, 28, 1–2610.1017/S0959270917000296Search in Google Scholar

[70] Ward M.P., Benson T.J., Jill D., Zenzal Jr. T.J., Diehl R.H., Celis-Murillo A., et al., Estimating apparent survival of songbirds crossing the Gulf of Mexico during autumn migration, Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci., 2018, 285, 2018174710.1098/rspb.2018.1747Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[71] Bayly N.J., Gómez C., Hobson K.A., Rosenberg K. V., Prioritizing tropical habitats for long-distance migratory songbirds: an assessment of habitat quality at a stopover site in Colombia, Avian Conserv. Ecol., 2016, 11, Article 510.5751/ACE-00873-110205Search in Google Scholar

[72] Canadian Council on Animal Care, Canadian Council on Animal Care, 2018Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2019-08-12
Accepted: 2020-01-09
Published Online: 2020-02-13

© 2020 Camille Bégin Marchand et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Downloaded on 24.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button