Seasonal differences in behavior patterns of the migratory white-throated sparrow

Erica F. Stuber, Paul A. Bartell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Avian migration and associated changes in behavior patterns occur on a seasonal basis and are regulated by both circadian and circannual clocks. It is well known that seasonally migrating birds must alter the temporal partitioning of behaviors in order to successfully complete nocturnal migration, although the precise changes in allocation have not previously been examined. Because of the difficulties related to the study of bird migration in the wild, many studies regarding the physiology of migration have been performed in captivity, where nocturnal migratory restlessness is readily observable at the appropriate times of the year. Even so, quantifying the amount and timing of daily behavioral rhythms in migrating and non-migrating individuals has not previously been performed. We used video recordings of a common nocturnal migrant, the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), to generate a basic ethogram and to chart the timing and frequency of occurrence of each behavior in order to compare migrant individuals with non-migrating birds. Our study suggests that the specific allocation of behaviors are altered during migration and that these changes might contribute to the development of the "migratory syndrome".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ethology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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