Date:October 20, 2015
Its blue and brown-coloured plumage is undoubtedly the most distinctive feature of the European roller, a threatened migratory bird. Up until now, little was known about this bird's migration patterns and wintering. For the first time, scientists from nine countries reveal the routes between the southern part of Africa and Europe taken by a considerable part of this species which is currently in a fragile state of conservation. Researchers have been able to uncover this information with the help of geolocators and satellite transmissions.
It breeds in Europe, crosses the Mediterranean via different routes, rests in Sub-Saharan Africa and winters in the southern part of Africa. Each year, the European roller (Coracias garrulus) covers close to ten thousand kilometres to breed and to winter over a route that was practically unknown up until now.
A team of scientists from nine countries (Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Austria, Switzerland, Montenegro, Lithuania and Cyprus) utilised data obtained from geolocators, satellite transmissions and bird ringing to examine the migration and wintering of this bird throughout a large part of the area where it is located. The results are published in the 'Diversity and Distributions' journal.
Thanks to this research, scientists have been able to ''uncover migration routes, resting areas and wintering grounds in addition to the degree of migratory connectivity in different populations of this species,'' explains Deseada Parejo, a researcher for the department of Anatomy, Cellular Biology and Zoology at the University of Extremadura (Spain) and co-author of the study.