Phenological parameters of a bluethroat Luscinia svecica azuricollis population breeding at high altitude in Spain


Authors: Juan ARIZAGA and Daniel ALONSO


Published: Volume 62.1, June 2015. Pages 173-178.

Language: English

Keywords: Central System, endemism, fuel load, moult and population structure


Bluethroats Luscinia svecica azuricollisbreeding in Spain belong to a poorly known endemic subspecies that is restricted to a relatively small distribution range. We aimed to present information on some basic life-history parameters from a population breeding at high altitude in central Spain. In particular, we wanted to answer the following questions: (1) When do these birds reach their breeding area, and when do they depart? (2) When do chicks appear in the population? (3) Do adult birds reach their breeding area with extra fuel? Do they depart from their breeding areas with fuel? (4) Do they moult within their breeding area? To answer these questions we used ringing data of birds captured during 2011 at La Covatilla, Salamanca province. Adults were caught mostly from May to July (no captures in August, 2.4% of adults in September). First-year bluethroats, however, appeared in June and remained in the zone up to September. Moulting adults (66% of 12 birds in total) were caught only in July. Moulting first-year birds were caught from July to September. The percentage of moulting first-year birds in relation to all captures in August and September was comparatively low (10% in both months) relative to July (40%), indicating that most birds underwent their post-juvenile moult shortly after fledging. Body condition (residual body mass) did not differ between age classes and months. We detected no evidence suggesting fuel accumulation before the autumn migration. Thus, if the population needs to gain fuel for this migration, this must happen elsewhere.

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