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Autumn and Early Winter Weights of Waders in North-West Africa

W. J. A. Dick and M. W. Pienkowski
Ornis Scandinavica (Scandinavian Journal of Ornithology)
Vol. 10, No. 1 (1979), pp. 117-123
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3676351
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3676351
Page Count: 7
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Autumn and Early Winter Weights of Waders in North-West Africa
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Abstract

The weights of waders in autumn, soon after their arrival in north-west Africa, and the subsequent changes in weight until early winter are compared with p̀atterns known from Europe and elsewhere. Throughout the period, for most species weights, and probably levels of fat and protein, were considerably lower in north-west Africa than in Britain. Many birds arrived with extremely low weights; some, extremely emaciated, were found dead or dying. Waders with similar reductions in weight have been found dead in cold weather in temperate and arctic areas. Some weight increases probably due to fat deposition occurred in onward migrants. Apart from these, no increases in weights were observed for waders in north-west Africa in late autumn and winter, unlike those wintering in north-west Europe. In all species weights remained much lower than those of the same species wintering in Britain, where fat reserves cause mid-winter peaks in weight. It is argued that where adverse weather conditions are infrequent, and therefore the need for fat and protein reserves unlikely, there are advantages in keeping weight low by minimizing such reserves.

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