Migration is a highly energy-demanding process, and migratory birds store energy at stopover sites along their migration routes to meet these demands. The Veery (Catharus fuscescens) performs one of the longest migrations of all Neotropical migratory landbirds, yet the stopover sites that it uses and their relative importance to migratory success are poorly known. We studied the Veery during two fall migrations (2009 and 2010) in northern Colombia, where we hypothesized that birds would replenish energy reserves after crossing the Caribbean Sea to fuel flights toward their wintering grounds. To determine the relative energetic importance of our study site, we combined estimates of fuel deposition rates, stopover durations, and flight ranges to estimate the percentage of the total migratory distance that could be covered following a stopover. Veeries arrived at our study site with low energy reserves, and recaptured birds increased their body mass at a mean rate of 3.6% of lean body mass day-1 over an average of 9 days. At departure, birds carried energy reserves equivalent to 34.5% of lean body mass, giving rise to a maximum potential flight range of 2,200 km, thereby allowing them to cover ≤30% of the total fall migration distance, depending on how reserves are used. By showing how a stopover site is used in energetic terms, we highlight the importance of a site in northern Colombia to long-distance Neartic—Neotropic migrants and also introduce a method that contributes to the prioritization of stopover sites across regions and species.
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Vol. 129 • No. 3