We studied the energy and protein balance of a Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia, a small long-distance migrant, during repeated 12-hr long flights in a wind tunnel and during subsequent two-day fueling periods. From the energy budgets we estimated the power requirements for migratory flight in this 26 g bird at 1.91 Watts. This is low compared to flight cost estimates in birds of similar mass and with similar wing shape. This suggests that power requirements for migratory flight are lower than the power requirements for nonmigratory flight. From excreta production during flight, and nitrogen and energy balance during subsequent fueling, the dry protein proportion of stores was estimated to be around 10%. A net catabolism of protein during migratory flight along with that of fat may reflect a physiologically inevitable process, a means of providing extra water to counteract dehydration, a production of uric acid for anti-oxidative purposes, and adaptive changes in the size of flight muscles and digestive organs in the exercising animal.
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Vol. 102 • No. 2