Seasonal age differences in weight and biometrics of migratory Dunlins (Calidris alpina) at Eilat, Israel

  • Reuven Yosef International Birding and Research Centre in Eilat, PO Box 774, Eilat 88000, Israel
  • Wlodzimierz Meissner Avian Ecophysiology Unit, Department of Vertebrate Ecology and Zoology, University of Gdansk, al Legionow 9, 80-441 Gdansk, Poland


This study was undertaken to understand the migratory strategies of the Dunlins (Calidris alpina) caught in Eilat, Israel, before and after they accomplish the crossing of the combined ecological barrier of the Sinai, Sahara and Sahel deserts. Between 1999–2001, a total of 410 adults and 342 juveniles were banded. The significant difference in mean wing length between birds caught in autumn and spring reflects the degree of abrasion of the outer primaries during over-wintering in Africa. Dunlins caught in Eilat in autumn and early winter had a mean wing length 1.4–1.9mm longer than in the spring. The rate of body mass increase was comparatively high and the mean body mass of the heaviest 10% of Dunlin at Eilat was 56.2g (SE +_ 0.6, N = 80). The heaviest birds from Eilat carried on average about 10g of fat with a lipid index (fat mass as a percentage of total body mass) of 18%. These reserves allow a flight of approximately 1 000km, which is probably sufficient for continued migration to more southerly wintering grounds.

Ostrich 2006, 77(1&2): 67–72

Journal Identifiers

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