Families of geese fly together

Animal: white-fronted geese

In contrast to songbirds, families of geese stay together during their first migration and often for even longer. Scientists suspect that parent geese pass on their knowledge about bird migration and feeding places to the young animals. The route and time of migration are very constant among individual birds. However, it has not yet been established whether the young geese select the same flight path and the same time for their journey as their parents after separating from them.

The Icarus researchers want to observe the flight paths of geese families throughout their entire lifetimes. They are attaching transmitters to white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons) in their breeding grounds and comparing the movements of family members on their first migratory journeys. They are also exploring which factors influence the timing of migration and which animals lead the flights. They also want to find out when and how young geese separate from their parents and how the family members find one another again after separation. The results will help to provide white-fronted geese with more effective protection.

Location: Kolguyev Island (Russia), Netherlands

Contact: Andrea Kölzsch, Ivan Pokrovsky and Martin Wikelski,Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, Germany

(Due to the war in Ukraine, the Russian space agency Roskosmos has terminated its cooperation with many partners. This also affects the Icarus project on the International Space Station ISS. The transmission of data from the ISS was stopped on March 3, 2022. The research team is currently considering alternative options for continuing Icarus independent of the ISS. One option is to operate its own small satellite to receive the data from the animals it transmits. In the meantime, the team is investigating whether the data can be read out from individual animals that have been transmitted on Earth.)

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