In total, the bird flies more than 9,500 kilometres across the African continent from the Balearic and Columbretes Islands before reaching the island of Madagascar. Some of the previously-obscure secrets now revealed by the scientists show that these falcons migrate by both day and night, and cross supposed ecological barriers such as the Sahara Desert.
Until recently, the scientific community had almost no knowledge of the biology and life strategies of Eleanora's falcon (Falco eleonorae), a migratory bird of prey with low population numbers that nests on marine islands. However, researchers from the Universities of Valencia (UV) and Alicante (UA) tagged 11 individuals (7 adults and 4 chicks) in the colonies of the Balearic Islands between 2007 and 2008 and in the Columbretes Islands in the province of Castellón in 2008, with a further five individuals tagged in 2009.
"This represents a landmark in the study of this species, because to date nobody had been able to catch any Eleanora's falcon individuals and tag them using satellite technology anywhere in their colonies in the western Mediterranean", Pascual López, a researcher at the UV and lead author of the study, which has been published recently in the journal Zoological Studies, tells SINC.
During the two-month migration undertaken by the falcons in order to winter in Madagascar, the biologists received hundreds of position signals for the adults (throughout 10 countries) and the juveniles (in 14 countries). Their migratory route to return to Europe in the spring once again crosses the African continent, "but they follow a completely different path from that used for the autumn migration, flying for more than 1,500km non-stop over the Indian Ocean from Madagascar to Somalia, a phenomenon that has never before been described in birds of prey of this genus, and which pushes them to the limits of their physiological capacity ", says the researcher.
A very special bird
Some of the peculiarities of this bird of prey, which migrates over long distances and evolved only recently, include "a reproductive cycle adapted to the migration of other bird species, starting at the end of the summer and not in the spring (the latest among all European birds of prey). This makes it a model organism for looking into questions about its phylogeography and evolution", adds López, who also wants to find out how the Eleonora's falcons manage to navigate during such a long journey.
Eleonora's falcon was named after Giudicessa Eleonora de Arborea (1350-1404), a Sardinian princess who fought for Sardinia's independence from the Kingdom of Aragon, and who drafted the first laws in Europe protecting birds of prey.
López-López, Pascual; Limiñana, Rubén; Urios, Vicente. "Autumn Migration of Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae Tracked by Satellite Telemetry" Zoological Studies 48(4): 485-491, julio de 2009.
SINC | EurekAlert!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences