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Spanish research shows that “ghost” Short-toed snake eagles spend the summer in Northern Africa

September 14th, 2011 · No Comments · Raptor Research

Immature Short-toed Eagle

Mellone, U., Yáñez, B., Limiñana, R., Muñoz, A.R., Pavón, D., González, J.M.,
Urios, V. & Ferrer, M. 2011 Summer staging areas of non-breeding Short-toed
Snake Eagles. Bird Study DOI:10.1080/00063657.2011.598914

The importance of the non-breeding fraction of raptor populations for conservation is well recognized, but little is known on the behaviour of these “ghost” birds, especially in migratory species. The Short-toed snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus is a migratory raptor that breeds in Europe and northern Africa, spending the winter in sub-Saharan Africa. Through satellite telemetry, a group of researchers led by the Estación Biológica Terra Natura (University of Alicante) and by the Fundación Migres recorded data of seven summering events belonging to six individuals hatched in Spain. Immature Short-toed Eagles left their wintering Sahelian grounds by mid-April, and after crossing the Sahara desert, the birds settled in Morocco and Algeria, thus not returning to Europe in their second nor third summer, and using one-three different staging areas for each summering. The eagles may have found suitable foraging areas along the migration route, where intraspecific competition was probably lower than at the breeding grounds, interrupting the migration journey to stay in these areas.

This study pinpoints that conservation of migratory long-lived species should not be solely focused in breeding and wintering grounds, but also should consider those events occurring in non-breeding summering areas. Download the complete paper here:

This article was provided courtesy of Ugo Mellone and his co-researchers.


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