In recent years, satellite tracking has enabled to get new important insights into several aspects of bird’s migration, one of the most unknown aspects of birds’ ecology. In the last years, we have studied the migration and wintering of satellite tracked Eleonora’s falcons (Falco eleonorae Gené, 1839) tagged during the breeding season at Balearic and Columbretes Islands. In autumn, Eleonora’s falcons migrated following inland routes along Africa. Birds arrived into Africa flying over the Mediterranean Sea directly from the breeding colonies, and then crossed the Sahara Desert, the Sahel region, south-eastern African savannahs and the Channel of Mozambique to arrive into their wintering grounds in Madagascar. During winter, falcons used areas of pristine humid forests close to degraded forests and cultivations, where they can fulfil food requirements for this period. In spring, falcons travelled larger over-sea distances between Madagascar and continental Africa than in autumn. We observed inter-annual variations in the routes used in this season to cross to inland Africa, which were related to meteorological conditions at the time of leaving Madagascar. These results are very important to propose global conservation actions for the species, highlighting that these actions should embrace the whole lifecycle of the species.
Conservation; Eleonora’s falcon; Migration; Raptors; Satellite tracking; Wintering