Cross-icecap spring migration confirmed in a high-Arctic seabird, the Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea

Authors: Morten Frederiksen, Olivier Gilg, & Glenn Yannic

Year: 2020

Publication: Ibis

Publication Link:

Keywords: ecological barrier, Greenland icecap, high-altitude migration


Seabirds rarely cross major terrestrial barriers during seasonal migration, possibly because they have a limited ability to build up fat stores. For the first time, we tracked two Ivory Gulls with GPS loggers during spring migration from the wintering area in Davis Strait to the breeding colony in north-east Greenland. While one bird migrated in March around the southern tip of Greenland,
the other delayed migration until May and crossed the Greenland icecap north of 70°N, covering 1345 km in 29 h. Several aspects of the crossing were noteworthy: the track was remarkably direct, the bird made several stops (totalling 6 h) on the icecap, and the bird increased its flying altitude to nearly 3000 m over West Greenland and > 4000 m over East Greenland.

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