Bernice Goffin was a Master’s student who came from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. For six weeks she was at our Center and collected data from our wild bird ringing database, namely the Pied flycatcher. In addition to this data, she also collected our daily weather data available since the beginning of the 21st century.

Unfortunately, her work indicated something we already suspected. Here’s what she wrote:

Many bird species that migrate long distances are in decline partly because of environmental changes, such as climate change or land-use changes. Although much is already known on the effects of environmental change on birds that are on their spring migration or on their breeding grounds, little is known with regard to possible negative effects on birds that are on their autumn migration and visiting so-called stopover sites on their way to their wintering grounds. These stopover sites are vital for birds to refuel, and a potential deteriorating quality of the stopover sites may lead to individuals dying during migration. We investigated the impacts of local environmental conditions on the migration strategy and body condition of the Pied Flycatcher at an autumn migration stopover site using long-term ringing data and local environmental conditions. We found that although birds arrived and departed the stopover site around the same time over the years, the body condition of the individuals caught decreased, and the length of their stay at the stopover site increased. This suggests that conditions at the stopover site during the autumn migration period have deteriorated over time which may lead to the death of more birds during autumn migration.

If you wish to read the full scientific paper you can do it here.

Above: Bernice Goffin