Migrant Landbird Study Group

Promoting collaborative research for migratory landbirds across flyways

Dutch English French German Spanish Turkish

Stopover after sea crossing

Study species: Passerines

Research topics: Ecophysiology; Migration; Stopover ecology

Research locations: Ponza, Italy; Ventotene, Italy

Project organiser: Ivan Maggini

Status: Active

We collaborate with the Progetto Piccole Isole (PPI, translated "small islands project") on two Italian islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. These islands attract huge numbers of migrants during spring migration, probably because the birds arriving there need a short rest after having performed a long direct crossing of the Mediterranean Sea (about 500 km from the North African coast). This offers a great opportunity to study several aspects linked to stopover and migration physiology on large sample sizes from several species. Please visit the website of the Ponza station here:

We use several approaches depending on the study question, which mostly involve: short-term captive experiments where we monitor locomotory activity and physiological parameters in birds usually during just one night after capture; (automated) radiotracking of captured birds to determine activity rates and departure times; sampling of physiological parameters in free-flying individuals; studies of parasites such as ticks and blood parasites; in the past also radar studies. Our main topics are: 1. Endocrinology of stopover decisions (which hormones are involved in the decision to leave a stopover site?) 2. Phenology 3. Effects of past and present environmental variables on stopover patters and physiology of migrants