Sleep and migration in White-crowned Sparrows

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) is a small sparrow in the Passerellidae family. It has a huge range across North American all the way from the northern tips of Alaska and Canada where it breeds to its wintering range in Central America.

A 2004 study by Rattenborg et al. [1] studied sleep in White-crowned Sparrows. They were found to sleep two-thirds less time during migration. What’s more, they found that the birds still performed well during a cognitive task, compared to their poorer performance at that task when sleep-deprived during a non-migratory period. Therefore, the White-crowned Sparrows in this study seemed to have some resistance to the effects of sleep deprivation during migration.

[1] Rattenborg, N. C., Mandt, B. H., Obermeyer, W. H., Winsauer, P. J., Huber, R., Wikelski, M., & Benca, R. M. (2004). Migratory sleeplessness in the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii). PLoS biology, 2(7).

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