Washington, October 18 (ANI): Satellite tracking has allowed a research team to uncover the mysteries of the migration of Eleanora's falcon for the first time.
Until recently, the scientific community had almost no knowledge of the biology and life strategies of Eleanora's falcon, 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.
The tagged falcons started their migration of more than 9,500 kilometres in the autumns of 2007 and 2008, travelling from the Balearic Islands to Madagascar.
The new discovery made by this study was that the falcons do not fly over the waters of the Mediterranean and along the East African coast, but instead cross straight over the African continent.
The satellite tracking data have also shown that "Eleonora's falcons can migrate by both day and night (a new discovery among birds of prey of their genus), and cross supposed ecological barriers such as the Sahara Desert, the Equator and extensive stretches of open sea in the Indian Ocean," said Lopez.
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," said the researcher. (ANI)