Variation in energy intake and basal metabolic rate of a bird migrating in a wind tunnel

Å. Lindström, M.R.J. Klaassen, A. Kvist

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


    1. We studied the changes in body mass, metabolizable energy intake rate (ME) and basal metabolic rate (BMR) of a Thrush Nightingale, Luscinia luscinia, following repeated 12-h migratory flights in a wind tunnel. In total the bird flew for 176 h corresponding to 6300 km. This is the first study where the fuelling phase has been investigated in a bird migrating in captivity. 2. ME was Very high, supporting earlier findings that migrating birds have among the highest intake rates known among homeotherms. ME was significantly higher the second day of fuelling, indicating a build-up of the capacity of the digestive tract during the first day of fuelling. 3. Further indications of an increase in size or activity level of metabolically active structures during fuelling come from the short-term variation in BMR, which increased over the 2-day fuelling period with more than 20%, and in almost: direct proportion to body mass. However, mass-specific BMR decreased over the season. 4. The patterns of mass change, ME and BMR of our focal bird following two occasions of 12-h fasts were the same as after flights, indicating that fast and flight may involve similar physiological processes. 5. The relatively low ME the first day following a flight may be a contributing factor to the well-known pattern that migrating birds during stopover normally lose mass the first day of fuelling. [KEYWORDS: body mass increase; intra-individual variation; Luscinia luscinia; stopover ecology; Thrush Nightingale Distance migrant shorebird; calidris-canutus; body-composition; garden warbler; sylvia borin; fat deposition; mass; size; allometry; stopover]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)352-359
    JournalFunctional Ecology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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