This chapter examines the basic pattern of the avian migrant's wintering period as well as its principal variations. The “wintering period” is the nonbreeding portion of the life cycle in which the migratory bird spends the majority of its time, and the “winter range” is the place where the majority of its population spends that period. For many species of migratory birds, this classification is straightforward, with a wintering period spent in northern South America that lasts from the end of October to the beginning of April. For some other species, the movement to the wintering ground is more complex, involving at least one prolonged stopover of 6–8 weeks in sub-Saharan savannah before continuation on to wintering grounds in trans-equatorial Africa. The chapter describes the bird's arrival at the wintering ground and the duration of migration and goes on to discuss sociality in terms of intraspecific interactions during the nonbreeding period. It also considers the factors responsible for nonbreeding distribution patterns of avian migrants, including climate and food resources.
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