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Nocturnal flights by Bearded Vultures Gypaetus barbatus detected for the first-time using GPS and accelerometer data

AuthorsGarcía-Jiménez, Ruth; Martínez-González, José María; Oliva-Vidal, Pilar; Piqué, Josep; Sesé Franco, José Antonio; Margalida, Antoni
Issue Date2020
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationBird Study 67(1): 135-141 (2020)
Abstract[Capsule]: We document previously undescribed nocturnal flight behaviour by Bearded Vultures Gypaetus barbatus using a combination of accelerometer and global positioning system (GPS) information.
[Aims]: To study the nocturnal flight activity of the Bearded Vulture and determine whether nocturnal flights could be linked to foraging behaviour.
[Methods]: We used both accelerometer and GPS location data of 11 Bearded Vultures in the Spanish Pyrenees along with 88 carcasses monitored with camera traps.
[Results]: Over half (55%, n = 11) of the individuals tracked were recorded flying between 0.7 and 6.1 km on at least 19 different nights, including 37% that occurred when less than 20% of the moon was illuminated. Bearded Vultures displayed feeding activity in only 8.2% of the 146 feeding events existing during the hour after dawn and the hour before dusk.
[Conclusions]: Our findings suggest that foraging benefits do not explain the nocturnal flights. Disturbances or adverse weather conditions may result in the abandonment of an overnight roosting site. This could also explain why individuals recovered in the field showed impact injuries.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2020.1781054
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