Changes in spring arrival dates of Central-European bird species over the past 100 years

Mr László Bozó1, Mr Tibor Csörgő2

1Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Budapest, Hungary, 2Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Anatomy, Cell- and Developmental Biology , Budapest, Hungary


Over the past decades, spring temperatures in temperate regions have increased, which resulted that birds arrive earlier in spring, and the distance between suitable overwintering areas and the breeding areas of many species are shortening. However, the timing of some species’ spring migration relies on endogenous rhythms that are not affected by climate change. Thus, the spring migration of these species will not advance even though they need to arrive earlier on their breeding grounds to breed at the appropriate time. In this study, we analysed changes in the spring arrival dates of 37 bird species over two periods in 22 towns and villages in the middle of Carpathian Basin, Central Europe. The first period covers the spring migration counts between 1894 and 1926 led by Jakab Schenk and Ottó Herman, while the second period took place between 2005 and 2018 and based on our recent observation data. Our results show that the average spring arrival dates of most long-distance, migrant species has not changed significantly over the past 100 years. In contrast, in cases of medium and short distance migrants most species arrives earlier recently than in the past. This may cause by the fact, that the migration habit of long-distance migrants is characterized by strong genetic determinants, so they can not react so quickly to the warmer spring weather in Europe than the medium and short distance migrants. However, in cases of some long-distance migrants, the timing of spring migration changed due to the drying of wintering grounds.


I’m professional bird ringer since 2013, however, I started my researches related to the birds in 2007. I live in Hungary, and my main interest is the songbird migration. Additionally, I also study a bird community in a Natura 2000 marshland site and the wintering birds of a small lake in SE Hungary. During these field works I collected app. 50000 data of birds. In 2016, I founded an own bird ringing camp in SE Hungary, and since that date I ringed more than 5200 individuals of 59 species on a channel-sided alley. Based on these data, I was able to describe the importance of these habitats on the bird migration.

In 2011, when I was 20 years old, I was attended in an international expedition in Russia, river Lena, and since then I’m dealing with the migration and distribution of Siberian passerines. The main focus is on the genus Phylloscopus, Locustella and Acrocephalus. After my first expedition, I visited the Muravivoka park (this is the main study area of Amur Bird Project) and the Baikal Bird Ringing Stations. So far I visited four time these bird ringing stations, and three times I was the head ringer.

From 2017, I’m a PhD student of the University of Eötvös Loránd (Migration of Siberian passerines). During my field work, I have clearly observed the effects of climate change on the appearance of species outside there distribution area, so I also collected data in this regard.

I’m also interesting in historical bird data.

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