Migrant Landbird Study Group

Promoting collaborative research for migratory landbirds across flyways

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Ecophysiology of migratory songbirds crossing the Sahara

Study species: Passerines

Research topics: Ecophysiology; Migration

Research location: Hotel Yasmina, Morocco

Project organiser: Ivan Maggini

Status: Active

This project revolves around the factors affecting stopover at the Northern edge of the Sahara Desert during spring migration. Our research is conducted in a dry lake bed (only rarely filled with water) surrounded by tamarisks, a very tiny oasis in an otherwise rocky and sandy desert, which attracts good numbers of passerine migrants. The strength of this location lies in the fact that it is very small, allowing the majority of birds landing there to be captured and marked and easily followed during their stopover. Some species use the site for quite long stopovers of up to three weeks, which is an interesting and unexpected pattern for such a small patch (about 4 ha).

We are focussing on different topics at this study site: 1. How do water balance and water availability affect stopover duration and foraging effort? 2. What are the drivers of territorial behaviour during stopover? 3. Long-term monitoring of bird migration