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Fat and body condition migrating Redwings Turdus iliacus

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Chris RedfernORCiD


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During the night of 29-30 October 1995, over 600 Redwings Turdus iliacus died as a result of flying into the lighthouse at Bardsey, Gwynedd, North Wales. These migrating birds were used to investigate fat levels in relation to age, sex, biometrics and pectoral muscle mass. Wing length was the best single linear measure of size and mean wing length of males was 2.5 mm greater than that of females. Body mass of the casualties declined during the night and the mean body mass of birds arriving towards the end of the night was 1.5 g lower than that of the first arrivals. Fat deposits at different body sites were significantly correlated with each other and with body mass, and, by extrapolation, the mass of intra-abdominal fat remaining would be significant when other fat deposits have been depleted. Fat in the tracheal pit (the claviculo-coracoid fat body) demonstrated the best correlation with body mass and was linearly correlated with visual fat scores. Fat was also present in the pectoral muscle but did not make a significant contribution to overall body mass. Two-thirds of the variation in body mass was accounted for by wing length, the mass of claviculo-coracoid fat and the lean-dry mass of pectoral muscle. Claviculo-coracoid fat and lean pectoral-muscle mass contributed independently to overall body mass. These data support the view that increase in fat in relation to migration is accompanied by an increase in protein or lean muscle mass, but suggest that these are controlled independently.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Redfern, C.P.F., Slough, A., Dean, B., Brice, J., Jones, P.

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Avian Biology

Year: 2000

Volume: 31

Issue: 2

Pages: 197-205

Print publication date: 01/06/2000

ISSN (print): 0908-8857

ISSN (electronic): 1600-048X


DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-048X.2000.310211.x


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