Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla stopping over at the desert edge; inter- and intra-sexual differences in spring and autumn migration

Ido Izhaki, Asaf Maitav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spring and autumn Palaearctic-African migration patterns of Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla during stopover at Elat, Israel, showed that males appeared significantly earlier than females during spring but not during autumn migration, suggesting that in males there is a stronger drive to reaching breeding territories early. The difference in mean appearance dates between sexes in spring tended to be greatest in years when the males appeared earliest. Longer spread of passage (the dates between which the central 50% of individuals were captured) for each sex in spring was found in years with an early mean passage date but was significant only for females. These observations suggest that the timing of Blackcap migration is governed not only by endogenous factors but also by exogenous factors, and when the environmental conditions are unfavourable, the differences in passage dates between sexes decrease and the passage lengths shorten. The early individuals (both males and females) that stopped over at Elat in spring were those with relatively small body size (as indicated by relatively short wings) and relatively large fat reserves and in good body condition (as indicated from fat score and body mass/wing-length ratio). No differences in body size between early and late transients were detected during the autumn migration, but late birds of both sexes carried larger fat reserves. These phenomena may be explained either by leap-frog migration or by differential fitness among wintering males and females or both, with only the fittest Blackcaps being capable of an early departure. These individuals probably face much less intensive intra- and interspecific competition with residents and other transients in stopover sites than do later transients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-243
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla stopping over at the desert edge; inter- and intra-sexual differences in spring and autumn migration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this