Dispersal of little egrets Egretta garzetta from northern Spanish Atlantic colonies

Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13157/arla.63.2.2016.sc4

Authors: Aitor GALARZA, Fernando ARCE, Juan G. NAVEDO and Juan ARIZAGA

E-mail: aitorgalarzai@gmail.com

Published: Volume 63.2, September 2016. Pages 375-382.

Language: Spanish

Original Title: Dispersión de la garceta común Egretta garzetta desde las colonias atlánticas del norte de España

Keywords: estuaries, herons, Iberian Peninsula, natal dispersal and waterbirds


We studied the movements of little egrets Egretta garzetta from breeding colonies in northern Spanish Atlantic estuaries using sighting data of colour-ringed birds. Data on 304 resightings of 95 out of 457 little egrets ringed as chicks in two colonies on the southern Bay of Biscay were analysed. Most egrets (68.9%) were observed less than 50 km from their natal colonies and thus exhibited low dispersal, supporting the view that these birds belong to a resident population breeding along the coasts of the Bay of Biscay. Nearly all resightings (95.5%) occurred in estuaries across an east-west axis corresponding to the Atlantic coast of northern Spain and had a west-biased dispersal direction. We suggest that the recently formed northern Atlantic Spanish population is a consequence of a westward colonisation pattern originating in the French Atlantic colonies.

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