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!
Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences