Behavioural evidence for heat-load problems in Great Knots in tropical Australia fuelling for long-distance flight

Phillip Battley, Daniel Rogers, Theunis Piersma, Anita Koolhaas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Migratory shorebirds that live in the tropics prior to embarking on long (>5000 km) flights may face heat-load problems. The behaviour of a large sandpiper, the Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), was studied in Roebuck Bay, north-west Australia, from February to April 2000. We determined the incidence of heat-reduction behaviour in foraging and roosting birds in relation to breeding-plumage score (an index of migratory preparation) and microclimate variables. Heat-reduction behaviour (primarily raising the back feathers) was significantly related to breeding-plumage score and solar radiation. Raising back feathers may reduce the external heat load for a bird, or increase convective or cutaneous evaporative cooling. The results suggest that managing heat loads in tropical-wintering waders may become more difficult close to departure on migration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalEmu
Volume103
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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