ABSTRACT

Most migratory birds, particularly passerines or songbirds, migrate at night. However, diurnal migration has many benefits, including the ability to use a fly-and-forage migration strategy that allows an individual to refuel while migrating. Despite these benefits, very little research has been undertaken on diurnal migrants, including aerial foragers, who can refuel on the wing. In this study, we use the Motus Wildlife Tracking System to examine the timing of Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia), Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), and Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) movements during fall migration. Using these data, we confirm the “common knowledge” that these species of aerial foragers are diurnal migrants. During fall migration, 88.2% detections across all species were during the day, and the remaining detections were during civil twilight (range of sun elevation angles: –5.4° to 0°). Most of the detections during the day were consistent with migratory movement, and most detections during civil twilight were consistent with movements to and from communal roosts. Collectively, these results indicate that during fall migration, these 4 swallow species migrate during the day and, like other aerial foragers, may use a fly-and-forage migration strategy.

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