Ornis Hungarica. vol.24(1). (2016) p.128-149.
Migration routes and stopover sites of the Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) between the Carpathian Basin and wintering areas
Understanding the migration routes of the Central European Spoonbill population is important for their conservation. Here we analysed movements of 3186 individuals of Eurasian Spoonbills marked with colour rings in the Carpathian Basin (Hungary, Croatia and Serbia) between 2003 and 2015, and a satellite tagged individual, which was equipped in Italy in 2013, and later moved to the Carpathian Basin. Migration routes of these Spoonbills predominantly followed the Adriatic Flyway, however, some birds were also found to both east and west from this flyway. We identified 59 stopover sites, 55 of which were located along the Adriatic Flyway. Colour-ringed juveniles (1cy), on average, spent 4.0±0.9 (SE) days on the stopover sites along the Adriatic Flyway during autumn migration, while non-juveniles (> 1cy) spent 2.6±1.0 (SE) days during autumn and 2.1±0.4 (SE) days during spring migration there. These durations were not significantly different. Duration of stops of the satellite tracked individual was between 7 and 15 days during autumn and between 1 and 12 days during spring migration. Our results indicate the existence of two alternative routes of the Adriatic Flyway between the Carpathian Basin and the wintering areas in southern Italy and the central part of coastal North-Africa. The North-Adriatic Flyway includes stopover sites in north-eastern Italy at the river mouth of River Isonzo, Lagunes of Venice and wetlands around River Po. The South Adriatic Flyway leads through the Balkan Peninsula, with stopover sites at the karst lakes of Bosnia and Herzegovina, mouth of the river Neretva (Croatia), Ulcinj Salinas (Montenegro) and wetlands in Gulf of Manfredonia (Italy). This hypothesis was also supported by the migration of the satellite tagged individual, the paths of which was described here in detail. The average coordinates of spring and autumn stopover sites were located at different parts of the flyway: it was in south-western Italy during autumn migration, while it was close to the western coast of the Balkan Peninsula during spring migration. We found examples for Spoonbills using the same migration paths along the same route year by year on both spring and autumn migration, but also noticed shifts between routes. Some observations indicate that individuals may show site fidelity to stopover sites between years, although the sample size was low for statistical significance.