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1 September 2000 Bird Behavior During a Total Solar Eclipse
Elliot J. Tramer
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I report avian behavioral responses to a total solar eclipse on the north coast of Venezuela during the afternoon of 26 February 1998. Magnificent Frigate-birds (Fregata magnificens), Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), and Royal Terns (Sterna maxima), which had been foraging over the water before the eclipse, left the bay 39 (terns) or 13 (frigate-birds and pelicans) min before the eclipse became total. The frigate-birds flew inland and the pelicans went to roosts on cliffs bordering the bay. Residents of the local village, who knew the birds' behavior well, remarked that the frigate-birds and pelicans were behaving as they normally did at sunset. Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla) ceased foraging and flew rapidly back and forth over the water in a tight flock during the 3 min 40 s of totality. Twelve minutes after the solar disc emerged, the frigate-birds and pelicans began to return to the bay, and they and the gulls resumed foraging. The terns still had not reappeared more than 1 hr after totality. Solar eclipses, although of brief duration, apparently reduce light levels sufficiently to temporarily interrupt normal avian diurnal behavior.

Elliot J. Tramer "Bird Behavior During a Total Solar Eclipse," The Wilson Bulletin 112(3), 431-432, (1 September 2000).[0431:BBDATS]2.0.CO;2
Received: 16 August 1998; Accepted: 1 April 2000; Published: 1 September 2000
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