The nonbreeding period represents a significant part of an Afro-Palearctic migratory bird's annual cycle. Decisions such as whether to remain at a single site and whether to return to it across years have important effects on aspects such as survival, future breeding success, migratory connectivity, and conservation. During this study, we color-ringed 337 common Whitethroats Curruca communis and undertook daily resightings to understand site persistence and the degree of site fidelity throughout three nonbreeding periods (November-April) in Nigeria. The probability of detecting a color-ringed Whitethroat when it was present was 0.33. Site persistence varied widely across individuals (1-165 days) and did not differ significantly with sex or year, though first-year birds remained for significantly shorter periods than adults. We believe that shorter residencies are likely due to the use of multiple stationary nonbreeding sites rather than low winter survival. A minimum of 19% of individuals returned to the study site the following year and shifted, on average, 300 m, suggesting that Whitethroats have a relatively high degree of between-years site fidelity at a very fine scale. An individual's previous residency duration did not seem to determine its residency duration the following year. We suggest that spatial fidelity is high and constant through years, but temporal fidelity is not, and individual residency patterns vary, probably according to yearly and seasonal conditions. Our results highlight the complexity of the annual cycle of a single species and the importance of carrying out in situ, fine-scale research throughout a migrant's annual cycle over several years.
- Afro-Palearctic migrant
- Common Whitethroat
- Curruca communis
- Nonbreeding period
- Return rates
- Site fidelity
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Tapia Harris, C. (Creator) & Cresswell, W. (Contributor), University of St Andrews, 23 Sept 2022