Great Basin Naturalist


Behavior of migrant birds in relation to temperature was studied and compared to that of resident species in the northern Mojave Desert. Migrants reduced foraging intensity above 30 C, but resident species showed no striking decrease in intensity of foraging at temperatures up to 35 C. Migrant species shifted activities to shaded microhabitats at temperatures between 20 and 30 C; the resident Verdin showed a similar shift at 35 C. Most migrants decreased the amount of time spent foraging at temperatures above 30; Verdins showed a similar but stronger response to temperatures about 30 C. Significant reductions in the use of hovering and hawking maneuvers were found among migrants at temperatures above 30 C. Migrants showed similar types of behavioral adjustments to temperatures as did resident desert species, but they responded earlier in the daily temperature cycle. Desert birds appear to correlate their daily activity strongly with temperature, but nondesert species may respond either to temperature or time of day.