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Roosting behavior of premigratory Dunlins (Calidris alpina)

January 1, 1992

We studied roosting behavior of Dunlins (Calidris alpina) during late summer along the coast of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, in relation to tidal cycle, time of day, time of season, and occurrence of predators. Within Angyoyaravak Bay, peak populations of 70,000-100,000 Dunlins occur each year. The major diurnal roost sites were adjacent to intertidal feeding areas, provided an unobstructed view of predators, and were close to shallow waters used for bathing. At one site studied intensively, roosting flocks formed at high water consistently during the day but rarely at night. On about 75% of the days, Dunlins also came to the roost at dawn and dusk when the tide was low. The size of the roosting flock, the length of time birds spent at the roost site, and behavior at the roost site were highly variable throughout the season and significantly affected by both tide level and time of day. Roosting behavior changed significantly between early and late August, as Dunlins underwent heavy wing and body molt, and began premigratory fattening. The reaction of Dunlins to potential predators, the formation of roosting flocks in response to light cues, and seasonal changes in social behavior at the roost site suggested that communal roosting behavior may be related not only to the risk of predation but also to behavior during migration.

Publication Year 1992
Title Roosting behavior of premigratory Dunlins (Calidris alpina)
DOI 10.2307/4088266
Authors Colleen M. Handel, Robert E. Gill
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Auk
Index ID 70185140
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center