Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

© 2014 British Ornithologists' Union. As the climate changes, many long-term studies have shown that the timing of bird migration is shifting, increasing the need for reliable measures of migratory phenology. Ideally, daily counts of birds at a site are used to calculate the mean arrival date (MAD) but, as this approach is not always possible and is very labour-intensive, simpler metrics such as first arrival date (FAD) have commonly been used. Here, we examine the relationship between FAD and MAD in 28 summer migrant bird species over a 42-year period (1970-2011) at Portland Bird Observatory, UK. Although significant correlations between FAD and MAD were detected, relationships were weak, particularly in long-distance migrants. We suggest that FAD, although a simple and straightforward measure, is not particularly robust as a proxy for overall migratory phenology at a population level.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





384 - 390