Coastal specialised species have naturally restricted distribution areas and may be drastically affected by fragmentation or loss of their habitats due to ongoing changes, such as artificialisation, shoreline erosion, rising water levels or colonisation by invasive species. In this context we characterise the land occupation strategies of a Western Atlantic French coastal endemic bird: the Bluethroat Cyanecula svecica namnetum. Our study focuses on a key period of the life cycle of this species: the post-breeding moult. Capture and recapture sessions in intertidal habitats have allowed us to retrieve 26% of local breeders during their moulting period. The modeling of moult kinetics revealed that moult of flight feathers takes 37–50 days. A radio-tracking survey of moulting birds revealed exploitation by individuals of both the lowest and tallest vegetal formations of intertidal sites and exploitation of small home ranges (0.42–1.34 ha), typical of locations where trophic resources tend to be abundant and predictable. Analyses of droppings highlighted that Coleoptera, Aranea and marine crustaceans (Amphipoda) contributed most of the prey biomass consumed, amphipods being particularly selected by birds in active moult. Our results underline the importance of intertidal wetlands in terms of trophic opportunities to compensate for the energy costs of moult for the Bluethroat. Given the global changes already dramatically affecting coastal habitats, we emphasise that special attention should be given to the conservation of intertidal wetlands for marshland passerines of conservation concern such as the Bluethroat, and that restoration of adjacent coastal terrain is a promising development.
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Vol. 64 • No. 2