Ardea
Official journal of the Netherlands Ornithologists' Union

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Mosbech A., Gilchrist G., Merkel F., Sonne C., Flagstad A. & Nyegaard H. (2006) Year-round movements of Northern Common Eiders Somateria mollissima borealis breeding in Arctic Canada and West Greenland followed by satellite telemetry. ARDEA 94 (3): 651-665
We implanted satellite transmitters to track Northern Common Eiders Somateria mollissima borealis from breeding grounds in West Greenland and eastern Arctic Canada, and from their wintering grounds in southwest Greenland. We compared distances moved, timing, duration, and patterns of movement between migration flyways and between spring and autumn migration. Common Eiders used two wintering areas linked by three routes. Eiders tracked from a northwest Greenland breeding colony (n = 10) migrated south along the coast to winter exclusively in west and southwest Greenland. Breeders from Arctic Canada wintered in two distinct areas with a tendency to segregate by sex. Some eastern Canadian Arctic Eiders from a colony near Southampton Island, migrated through Hudson Strait along the Labrador and Newfoundland coasts, to winter in Atlantic Canada. However, 60% (n = 25) originating from this colony crossed the Davis Strait to winter in Southwest Greenland, returning in spring to breed in Canada, linking the two north-south flyways. Seven of 8 Eiders implanted in southwest Greenland in winter crossed the Davis Strait into Arctic Canada in spring to breed. Apparently more females than males from the Canadian colony (14/18 females and 1/6 males) followed the shorter east-west flyway in fall. Spring migration was initiated later in the Canadian Arctic. Tracked movements ranged from sedentary birds that nested within 45 km of their wintering area in south-western Greenland, to migration routes that exceeded 2000 km. Spring migration speeds averaged c. 60 km dľ1, less than half that during moult migration (142 km dľ1) and autumn migration (190 km dľ1). This suggests that Eiders must stop to feed whilst travelling to breed, are constrained by sea ice conditions, or both. Climatic and sea ice conditions differ between the eastern Arctic Canada and west Greenland which influence wintering sites, timing and routes of spring migration.


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