We studied the movements of little egrets Egretta garzetta from breeding colonies in northern Spanish
Atlantic estuaries using sighting data of colour-ringed birds. Data on 304
resightings of 95 out of 457 little egrets ringed as chicks in two colonies on
the southern Bay of Biscay were analysed. Most egrets (68.9%) were observed
less than 50 km from their natal colonies and thus exhibited low dispersal,
supporting the view that these birds belong to a resident population breeding
along the coasts of the Bay of Biscay. Nearly all resightings (95.5%) occurred
in estuaries across an east-west axis corresponding to the Atlantic coast of
northern Spain and had a west-biased dispersal direction. We suggest that the
recently formed northern Atlantic Spanish population is a consequence of a
westward colonisation pattern originating in the French Atlantic colonies.
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