Gone with the wind: Seasonal trends in foraging movement directions for a central-place forager

Abstract

Lesser kestrels Falco naumanni are migratory central-place foragers that breed in dynamic arable landscapes. After arriving from migration, kestrels have no knowledge of the distribution of crops, and consequently prey, around their colony. The energy demand of pairs increases as breeding season progresses, but at the same time prey abundance, and their knowledge on prey distribution, also increases. Wind can have a strong influence on flight cost and kestrels should try to reduce energy expenditure when possible. When prey abundance is low, kestrels have little knowledge of prey distribution, and pairs have no chicks, they could reduce foraging flight cost by leaving the colony with tailwinds. When prey is abundant, knowledge on prey distribution has increased, and chick demand is high, kestrels should fly to the most favorable foraging patches. We analyzed foraging trips directions in a lesser kestrel colony along the breeding season and in relation to wind speed and direction. We recorded 664 foraging trips from 19 individuals using GPS-dataloggers. We found that outward flights direction changed from uniform to a concentrated distribution along the season, as prey abundance and individual experience increased. We also found a temporal trend in the angular difference between outward flights and wind directions, with low values early in the season and then increasing as expected, but again low values at the end, contrary to expectation. Results suggest changes in kestrels foraging strategy along the season in relation to wind. Kestrels depart more with tailwinds in exploratory flights early in the season, while there is a spurious coincidence in direction to preferred foraging patches and dominant wind direction at the end [Current Zoology 60 (5):

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{HernndezPliego2014GoneWT, title={Gone with the wind: Seasonal trends in foraging movement directions for a central-place forager}, author={Jes{\'u}s Hern{\'a}ndez-Pliego and Carlos Rodriguez and Javier Bustamante}, year={2014} }