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!
Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine