Compensation for lateral drift due to crosswind in migrating European Bee-eaters

Nir Sapir, Nir Horvitz, Martin Wikelski, Roni Avissar, Ran Nathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Billions of seasonally migrating birds and insects use two principal modes of flight, i.e., flapping and soaring-gliding. Flight mode is known to have strong effects on energy expenditure and speed of migration, yet its influence on the migratory track has rarely been investigated. Using radio telemetry, we studied the effects of crosswind on European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) during their spring migration with respect to different flight modes. Flapping, soaring-gliding, and mixed flight in which the birds flapped during gliding were distinguished by radio signals while the birds were flying en route over southern Israel. The regional atmospheric modeling system was applied in high spatial (1 km × 1 km) and temporal (5 min) resolution to estimate winds encountered aloft. We analyzed data from 11 birds that flew over a total distance of 810 km and found that lateral drift due to side wind did not differ among birds engaged in different flight modes. Overall, there was almost no effect of crosswind speed on bird lateral speed, as the regression slope was 0.31 (indicting mild lateral drift) and the regression's R 2 was 0.01. Therefore, we conclude that migrating bee-eaters compensated for crosswind during their spring migration and that this response was not dependent on bird flight mode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-753
Number of pages9
JournalJournal fur Ornithologie
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric modeling
  • Biotelemetry
  • Bird migration
  • Flight mode
  • Merops apiaster
  • Wind drift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Compensation for lateral drift due to crosswind in migrating European Bee-eaters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this