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Integrating light-level geolocation with activity tracking reveals unexpected nocturnal migration patterns of the tawny pipit

Cite this dataset

Briedis, Martins; Beran, Václav; Adamik, Peter; Hahn, Steffen (2021). Integrating light-level geolocation with activity tracking reveals unexpected nocturnal migration patterns of the tawny pipit [Dataset]. Dryad.


Migratory birds complete their seasonal journeys between breeding and non-breeding sites with a series of migratory flights that are separated by prolonged stopovers. While songbirds are the most common taxa among migratory birds, empirical data on flight and stopover behaviour along their entire migratory journeys are still rare. Here, we integrate activity and barometric pressure tracking with classical light-level geolocation to describe migration behaviour of tawny pipits Anthus campestris breeding in Central Europe. Surprisingly, tracked pipits used, on average, as many as 10 stopover sites during their six week, >5000 km long autumn migration. This conforms to a typical hop-type pattern of migration. In contrast to common knowledge which considers the tawny pipit as a typical diurnal migrant, our data revealed that more than 2/3 of all migratory movements were carried out at night. Nocturnal departure times were highly variable within individuals and spread across the entire night while landing most often took place within the first few hours after sunrise. Consequently, there was a negative relationship between departure timing relative to sunset and flight duration. Short flights of up to 2 h were most common and median flight duration was 4.5 h. There was a hyperbolic relationship between flight duration and maximum flight altitude and flight altitudes during night were two times higher compared to daytime. The overall ratio of flight vs stopover duration during migration was on average 1:6.5. This closely matches predictions from theoretical models. We show that multi-sensor tracking has the potential to provide unprecedented details on migratory behaviour of individual birds along their entire migratory journeys, and it also improves the precision of geographical locations derived from light-level geolocators.


This data was collected using multi-sensor geolocators GDL3-PAM (Swiss Ornithological Institute) that were mounted on Tawny Pipits (Anthus campestris) using leg-loop harness.

This is Raw data.

Usage notes

See Readme file.


Czech Science Foundation, Award: 20-00648S

Federal Office for the Environment, Award: 254, 332, 363, 400

Latvian Council of Science, Award: lzp-2019/1-0242

Palacký University, Olomouc, Award: IGA_PrF_2020_018