Pied flycatchers, which curse biogeography every time they have to fly across the Sahara to migrate, apparently cross the desert with daytime flight as well as night flying.
For a long time, the presumption was that most migratory songbirds on a Sahara crossing took what shelter they could from the daytime sun and did most of their flying at night. But that assumption is breaking down, Janne Ouwehand and Christiaan Both of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands write April 12 in Biology Letters.
The researchers fitted flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) with light and temperature data-loggers. During seasonal migrations, flycatchers put in around 40 to 60 hours of uninterrupted flying. There have been some other efforts to track birds across the Sahara, but Ouwehand and Both say this is the first study to suggest that songbirds fly nonstop across the desert.