Highways as flyways: Time and energy optimization in migratory Levant Sparrowhawk

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8 Scopus citations


A successful migratory strategy is the result of optimizing three important factors - time, energy and safety. Raptors mainly use soaring-and-gliding flight that results in time and energy minimization. I observed migratory flocks of Levant Sparrowhawk as they took off from nocturnal roost, to understand the environmental and anthropogenic factors affecting their early-morning flight behavior. The earliest flocks converged in a straight line from the roosts to the highway and flew above it for 40-70 min after sunrise. The flocks stayed ca. 40-100 m in above the highway which suggested that the Levant Sparrowhawk utilized the heat released by the highway surface to improve flight conditions. Twenty-five Levant Sparrowhawk that took off from the roost and headed across open areas had to flap an average of 16.8 ± 1.9 wing beats per minute, which was significantly greater (paired t = -16.8, P = 0.0001) than the 8.8 ± 1.8 wing beats per minute for the same individuals when flying over the highway. The data indicate that Levant Sparrowhawk, that have behaviorally modified and adapted to flying along highways, are able to migrate an hour earlier in the day and to conserve almost 50% of the energy they would otherwise have had to invest in covering the same distance in flapping flight. The result of this strategy maximizes timing of migration while minimizing energy expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-141
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Accipiter brevipes
  • Eilat
  • Levant Sparrowhawk
  • Migration
  • Tar roads

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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