Drifting birds of prey use predictable winds during migration

European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus soaring in the wind.

European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus soaring in the wind.

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Seasonal detours by soaring migrants shaped by wind regimes along the East Atlantic Flyway” by Wouter M. G. Vansteelant et al. Issued by University of Amsterdam.

Birds of prey let themselves be carried by predictable winds
At the start of autumn, several billion migratory birds take flight for a long, adventurous journey to Africa. How do they manage to complete this difficult journey successfully year after year? To find out, a team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) tracked the behaviour of migrating European honey buzzards using small GPS backpacks. They combined GPS data with meteorological models to show how these migratory birds travel via complicated detours to make use of predictable weather patterns. They do so especially over the Sahara Desert, an inhospitable landscape they need to cross as quickly as possible. Continue reading