Males visit multiple breeding grounds all across the Arctic
B. Kempenaers/Max Planck Inst. For Ornithology
After flying more than 10,000 kilometers from South America to the Arctic, male pectoral sandpipers should be ready to rest their weary wings. But once the compact shorebirds arrive at a breeding ground in Barrow, Alaska, each spring, most keep going — an average of about 3,000 extra kilometers.
Scientists thought males, which mate with multiple females, stayed put at specific sites around the Arctic to breed. Instead, in a study of 120 male pectoral sandpipers in Barrow, most flitted all across the region looking for females. One bird flew a whopping 13,045 kilometers more after arriving, researchers report online January 9 in Nature.
“We had no clue that they range over such a wide area,” says study coauthor Bart Kempenaers, a behavioral ecologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany.