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U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3038

In cooperation with The University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University

A Neotropical Migrant Bird’s Dilemma—Where to Stop for a Good Meal

By Joseph J. Fontaine and Charles van Riper III



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To learn how migrating birds determine where to stop and find food, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Arizona University, and The University of Arizona studied the behavior of 28 species of neotropical migrant songbirds—warblers, flycatchers, tanagers, and vireos—along the lower Colorado River from 2001 to 2004. They found that, like interstate travelers greeted by restaurant billboards, songbirds flying over Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, relied on the flowering of honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) to detect the availability of insects that they prey on. Understanding where and why migrant birds stop will help land managers better protect key habitats used by these tiny travelers.

Version 1.0

First posted June 3, 2009

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Suggested citation:

Fontaine, Joseph J., and van Riper, Charles, III, 2009, A neotropical migrant bird's dilemma; where to stop for a good meal: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3038 [].

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