Longer is fatter: body mass changes of migrant Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) staging at Eilat, Israel

  • R Yosef International Birding and Research Center in Eilat, PO Box 774, Eilat 88000, Israel
  • N Chernetsov Biological Station Rybachy, 238535 Rybachy, Kaliningrad Region, Russia (NChernetsov@bioryb.koenig.ru)


Ecological barriers are the riskiest phases of the annual migrations for migratory birds. Comparatively little field data exists pertaining to the ability of migratory birds to prepare for the challenges of crossing ecological barriers, or their ability to recuperate afterward. Migrating Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) were captured in Eilat, Israel, during their spring and autumn migrations. Data on spring and autumn body masses, their inter-annual variation, and the pattern of body mass increase were analysed. The birds show a significant inter-annual variation in their body mass and body condition index in both seasons, which is consistent with the data from other sites and for other passerine species. During stopovers, mass gain occurred in both seasons. Birds in poor initial condition, and those that stop over for a longer period of time, gained more body mass faster. In spring, but not in autumn, the progress of the season was also an important factor; late-arriving birds gained more fuel faster. The average rate of fuel gain was 0,157g·day–1 ± 0.018 SE.

Ostrich 2005, 76(3&4): 142–147

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525