Water-crossing tendency of juvenile Honey Buzzards  Pernis apivorus during migration

AGOSTINI N., COLEIRO C., CORBI F., DI LIET0 G., PINOS F. & PANUCCIO M.

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Abstract:

The autumn migration of juvenile Honey Buzzards was studied from 15 to 29 September 2000 at three sites of the central Mediterranean: the Circeo promontory (central Italy) and the islands of Marettimo (western Sicily) and Malta. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that juvenile Honey Buzzards leaving the Italian peninsula from the Circeo promontory, reach Tunisia via the island of Marettimo. At the Circeo promontory a total of 500 individuals was counted with the peak on 21 and 22 September. Juvenile buzzards showed a strong tendency to undertake the sea crossing flying south apparently towards western Sicily via the island of Ponza. 13 birds were seen flying back inland. On average flocks contained 4.8 birds and only one, observed on 21 September, contained more than 20 individuals (87). Over the island of Malta 564 Honey Buzzards were counted with a maximum of 279 on 23 September. There was a notable correspondence between data recorded in these two sites, both concerning the variations of the migratory flow and the size of flocks. Over Marettimo, a total of 45 buzzards were seen in the whole period. These results do not agree with the hypothesis tested in this study; on the contrary they seem to suggest that birds avoid the crossing of the Tyrrhenian Sea deviating east towards the Italian peninsula and passing over Malta about two days later.