Changes in spring arrival dates of Central European bird species over the past 100 years

  • László Bozó Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, 1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/c
  • Tibor Csörgő Department of Anatomy, Cell- and Developmental Biology, Eötvös Loránd University, 1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/c
Keywords: climate change, spring bird migration, Csanádi-hát, Partium


Over the past decades, spring temperatures have increased in temperate regions, which resulted in birds arriving earlier in spring. Nonetheless, the timing of some species’ spring migration relies on endogenous rhythms that are not affected by climate change. In this study, we analysed changes in the spring arrival dates of 36 bird species over two periods in 22 towns and villages in Southeast Hungary and West Romania. The first period covered the national spring migration counts between 1894 and 1926, while the second period took place between 2005 and 2019 and is based on our recent observation data. Our results show, that the average spring arrival dates of most long-distance migrant species have not changed significantly over the past 100 years. In contrast, in cases of medium and short-distance migrants, most species arrive earlier recently than in the past. This may be caused by the fact, that the migration habit of long-distance migrants is characterized by strong genetic determinants, so they can not react as quickly to the warmer spring weather in Europe as the medium and short-distance migrants. However, in cases of some long-distance migrants, the timing of spring migration changed due to the drying of wintering grounds.