The islands of Marettimo (Italy), important bird area for the autumn migration of raptors

Agostini N., Logozzo D., Panuccio M.

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A survey on the autumn migration of raptors over the island of Marettimo (western Sicily) was carried out from 27 August to 9 September 1997, and from 26 August to 14 September 1998. A total of 3177 and 5227 birds was counted, respectively. Each year, nearly all raptors observed were Black Kites Milvus migrans and Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus. These species showed a strong tendency to migrate in large flocks. During 1998 it was possible to age some migrating birds; a notable overlap in the migration periods of adult and juvenile Black Kites occurred, while nearly all Honey Buzzards aged were adults. This study confirms the hypothesis that adult Honey Buzzards cross the central Mediterranean at its narrowest point, using the same route as in spring and showing true navigational abilities. Finally, on the island of Marettimo, occurs the greatest concentration of Black Kites and Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus during post-reproductive movements on the central Mediterranean. These results suggest that this site should be included among the Important Bird Areas for the autumn migration of raptors.