Most species of long-distance migratory birds put on energy stores to fuel their travels. However, recent studies have highlighted the potential costs associated with carrying too much fuel, either through increased predation risk or decreased flight efficiency. Consequently, it is now widely accepted that migratory birds should carry optimal rather than maximum fuel loads. Information from 372 garganey (Anas querquedula) ringed and recaptured at least once during the same spring in the Camargue, southern France, was used to document fuelling rates of individual ducks in relation to environmental variation and individual variation in condition. On average, garganey added very little fuel stores in the Camargue (mean gain per day=0.33 g, less than 0.5% of mean body-mass in total over an average stay of 5 days). Fuelling rates were negatively correlated with body mass at capture, but it cannot be excluded that this pattern was a statistical artefact. Given their body-mass at ringing, garganey could potentially still fly long distances when they stop in the Camargue. It is therefore likely that the aim of their stay in southern France is more for resting than refuelling, a finding that may have implications for the proper management of stop-over sites. [KEYWORDS: Anas querquedula ; Body condition ; Camargue ; Fuelling rates ; Migration]
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Journal publication date2004

ID: 314434