Bird Migration pp 102-113 | Cite as

Aspects of the Molt Migration

  • J. R. JehlJr.


In late spring or shortly after the breeding season, many temperate zone ducks and geese migrate to traditional assembly points, where they congregate in large numbers and undergo a simultaneous molt of their wing feathers, becoming flightless for several weeks. While knowledge of these assemblages of flightless birds was doubtless exploited by primitive hunters for millenia, the phenomenon of the molt migration was largely unappreciated by ornithologists until Salomonsen (1968) documented it in waterfowl and a few other groups. He considered that in its “best developed form” it involved birds moving from the breeding grounds to a special molting area, where they could rapidly replace their flight feathers at low risk from predation before resuming their flight to the winter quarters. He viewed this movement as distinct from the start of fall migration because: (1) the direction to the molting area usually differed from — and might even be opposite to — that to the wintering grounds; (2) all age and sex classes might not participate, (3) molting sites were highly localized; and (4) the numbers and densities of birds involved were often higher than at any other time.


Saline Lake Breast Muscle Snow Goose Mono Lake Common Eider 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. JehlJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Sea World Research InstituteHubbs Marine Research CenterSan DiegoUSA

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