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Long-term changes in migration timing of Song Thrush Turdus philomelos at the southern Baltic coast in response to temperatures on route and at breeding grounds


Climate warming causes the advancement of spring arrival of many migrant birds breeding in Europe, but the effects on their autumn migration are less known. We aimed to determine any changes in the timing of Song Thrush captured during spring and autumn migrations at the Polish Baltic coast from 1975 to 2014, and if these were related to long-term changes of temperature at their breeding grounds and migration routes. The timing of spring migration at Hel ringing station in 1975–2014 did not show long-term advance, but they had responded to environmental conditions on the year-to-year basis. The warmer the temperatures were in April on their migration route, the earlier were the dates of the median and the end of spring migration at Hel. The beginning of autumn migration at the Mierzeja Wiślana ringing station advanced by 5 days between 1975 and 2014. The warmer the April on route, and the July at the Song Thrushes’ breeding grounds, the earlier young birds began autumn migration across the Baltic coast. We suggest this was a combined effect of adults’ migration and breeding early during warm springs and young birds getting ready faster for autumn migration during warm summers. The average time span of 90% of the autumn migration was extended by 5 days, probably because of early migration of young birds from first broods and late of those from second broods enabled by warm springs and summers. The response of Song Thrushes’ migration timing to temperatures on route and at the breeding grounds indicated high plasticity in the species and suggested it might adapt well to climate changes.

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We are grateful to Marc Burman for advice on statistic procedures. We are grateful to Joel Avni for valuable comments and editing. We are grateful to the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments to the earlier version of the paper.


This paper was supported by the research grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa and the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) in Poland, within the Poland-South Africa Agreement in Science and Technology (PL-RPA/BEW/01/2016). The field data used in this study was collected with the support of the grants from the Polish Ministry of Higher Education to the Bird Migration Research Station (SPUB).

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Correspondence to Michał Redlisiak.

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Redlisiak, M., Remisiewicz, M. & Nowakowski, J.K. Long-term changes in migration timing of Song Thrush Turdus philomelos at the southern Baltic coast in response to temperatures on route and at breeding grounds. Int J Biometeorol 62, 1595–1605 (2018).

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  • Migration timing
  • Climate change
  • Song Thrush
  • Turdus philomelos
  • Temperature response