Molt is a metabolically demanding process in the annual cycle of birds, particularly for species that undergo simultaneous remigial molt because nutritional and energetic costs occur during a short period. Birds that molt remiges simultaneously utilize many different body-mass and foraging strategies to meet the nutritional and energetic costs of remigial molt, and documentation of interspecific variation has contributed to understanding species-specific risks associated with molt. However, little is known about intraspecific variation in body-mass and foraging strategies among birds that molt remiges simultaneously. We documented body-mass dynamics and foraging effort of Barrow's Goldeneyes (Bucephala islandica) during simultaneous remigial molt at two important postbreeding sites, including a large, hypereuthrophic lake and a small, mesotrophic lake in Alberta, to determine whether strategies for meeting nutritional costs of remigial molt varied across sites, years, and cohorts. Average body mass of all age and sex cohorts on both lakes increased during remigial molt in both 2009 and 2010. Birds were heavier on the smaller lake, and heavier in 2010 than in 2009, and adult males were heavier than subadult males. Radiomarked adult males exhibited similar foraging effort on each lake in each year (approximately 120–140 min day-1); however, birds foraged primarily diurnally on the large lake and nocturnally on the small lake. We conclude that Barrow's Goldeneyes exhibit considerable intraspecific variation in body-mass and foraging dynamics during remigial molt across sites, years, and cohorts, which suggests that these components of molt strategy are plastic and responsive to local environmental conditions.
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Vol. 130 • No. 2