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Data for: Post-migratory nonbreeding movements of birds: a review and case study

Cite this dataset

Teitelbaum, Claire; Bachner, Natalie; Hall, Richard (2023). Data for: Post-migratory nonbreeding movements of birds: a review and case study [Dataset]. Dryad.


Seasonal migrations are fascinating and ecologically important, but many migratory species are declining as climate change and land-use change alter the habitats used by migrants across the annual cycle. While some migratory birds use a single wintering site, others undertake large-scale post-migratory movements during the nonbreeding season. Technological advances that enable tracking individual birds are uncovering more examples of post-migratory nonbreeding movements. Documenting these movements is important for conservation, which requires understanding when and where migrants use habitats throughout their range. Here, we reviewed existing literature and collected information on the post-migratory nonbreeding movements of 92 migratory bird species from 18 orders across six continents. Among these records, the most commonly reported drivers of movements were resource availability and climate. This strong dependence of post-migratory nonbreeding movements on birds’ abiotic and biotic environments suggests that environmental change will impact the patterns of these movements and potentially the fitness of species that undertake them. We also reviewed post-migratory nonbreeding movements in North American-breeding thrushes from the genus Catharus to examine the drivers of these movements in five closely related migratory species. We find that species that are less territorial are more likely to use multiple sites during the nonbreeding season; however, there is little evidence for dietary, evolutionary, or environmental differences between thrush species that move during winter and those that are stationary. While we believe our study represents the most comprehensive list of species exhibiting post-migratory nonbreeding movements to date, biases in sampling, a lack of common terminology for these movements, and the still-nascent availability of inexpensive, lightweight tracking devices mean that there are probably many more populations that undertake such movements. Future research into the consequences of post-migratory nonbreeding movements for individual fitness and ecosystem services would advance our understanding of their conservation importance and their evolution.


We searched Web of Science and Google Scholar on 10 February 2021 using the following search string: “migrat* AND (*bird* OR avian) AND (*winter* OR nonbreeding OR non-breeding) AND (nomad* OR “*winter* movement*” OR “multiple *winter* sites” OR “between*site movement*” OR "multiple non*breeding sites" OR itineran*) AND (geolocat* OR *capture* OR track* OR gps OR MOTUS OR nanotag OR transmitter OR band* OR ring*)”. This string was designed to limit the search to migratory birds only and include known terms to describe post-migratory nonbreeding movements. We did not search for grey literature or use snowballing techniques.


National Science Foundation, Award: Graduate Research Fellowship

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1518611