Varies from sedentary to partial migrant across range. Movement both nocturnal and diurnal.
Northern race, nominate familiaris, partial migrant, eruptive in north of range, with heading chiefly south-west in autumn (reverse in spring). Regular on passage in south-west Finland, southern Sweden, and on Baltic coast; recorded annually from Denmark, and in most years reaches Netherlands. Numbers usually small, but much larger in irruption years: on Signilskär (Åland islands, south-west Finland) 18-210 ringed annually 1972-6, and on Lågskär (Aland islands), 41-596 ringed 1971-6; at 2 other Finnish sites, Säppi and Jurmo, 219 ringed in 1967, only 20 in 1966. Irruption of 1967 probably originated east of Finland, as local population depleted by 2 hard winters; however, irruptions of 1972 and 1973 probably resulted from high population levels in Finland following mild winters. Similar fluctuations reported from southern Sweden: at Ottenby, 14-132 ringed annually 1972-5; at Falsterbo, 1947-80, c. 80% of 565 birds were ringed in 5 years (1962, 1966, 1972, 1973, 1980). Varying annual numbers also reported from Estonia, Latvia, and Polish coast. Large-scale movement less evident in Norway, and 500 ringed 1972 was exceptional.
In Netherlands, c. 50 records in winter 1972-3 (all examined were this race), mostly in north; only 2 previous records of the species; marked influx also in 1975, but 1973 irruption extended less far, with only 1 Dutch record. Rare on Helgoland (Germany), with only 5 records 1953-63, but 3 in 1972. Extent of movement across Europe apparently slight, but not well known, as masked by resident macrodactyla. Most ringing recoveries are from Baltic region and Scandinavia and fall within passage periods, showing, e.g., movement from Estonia to Vistula estuary (Poland) in 16 days, and from Latvia to Hel (Polish coast) in 8 days; 3 birds ringed Hel, April, were recovered in north-west USSR in January-February of subsequent years, indicating that individuals may migrate in some years only. Other movements include bird ringed Hammarön (southern Sweden), October, recovered Lågskar, 368 km ENE, April, and bird ringed Torhamn (south-east Sweden), September, found 330 km north-west the following month; further a field, movements recorded from Koszalin (Poland) to Osnabrück (West Germany), c. 550 km WSW, and from south-west Norway to northern Belgium, 846 km south-west. 3 exceptional recoveries: bird ringed Belgium recovered Leningrad region, February; bird ringed northern Poland, May, recovered southern Italy in April 6 years later; and bird ringed central Poland, October, recovered Mallorca (Balearic Islands) in December of later year.
Spring passage weak in comparison with autumn, with small numbers even following irruptions. At Ottenby, over 39 years, 991 autumn records, 72 spring. On Lågskar, 90 recorded in autumn 1971, 4 in following spring; 350 in autumn 1972, 24 in following spring (Hildén 1974). At Hel, spring numbers tend to be small despite leading-line effect of coastline: 130 in autumn 1972, but 11 in subsequent spring; in 1973-4, however, 91 records in autumn and 57 in spring. In Rominter Heide (Poland/USSR), most juveniles and many adults reported to leave breeding area. Limited movement reported from European USSR. Marked increase in numbers in Moscow region in autumn, and some birds leave in winters with heavy snow. Similarly, in Volga-Kama region, immigrants swell numbers; in one reserve, autumn/winter numbers 10 times higher than summer. In western Ukraine, some birds make altitudinal movements.
Autumn movement in Finland begins mid-September in most years, peaking 2nd week of October and continuing to end of October or beginning of November; in irruption years, begins mid- or late August, peaking at end of September. Passage at Ottenby mostly mid-September to late October, and peaks late September on Polish coast. In northern Denmark, earliest records 4-30 September over 3 years, with peak mid-October continuing to mid-November. In 1972, invasion in Netherlands began 25 September and peaked mid-October. Movement most conspicuous in September in Leningrad region.
Spring movement in northern Denmark mid-March to April, peaking early April; at Ottenby, recorded late March to April, mostly 1st half of April. On Polish coast, main passage until 10 April, decreasing to beginning of May. British race, britannica, sedentary. Winter distribution only slightly less extensive than breeding distribution, with no evidence for any marked descent from uplands. Ringing data show that individuals rarely move more than 20 km; of 41 recoveries up to 1970, 32 showed no movement, 7 less than 16 km, one 16 km, one 21 km. 2 exceptional records: in southern England, bird ringed Stroud, July, recovered 115 km ESE at Farnham, October; in northern England, bird ringed Spurn, September, recovered 200 km west in Merseyside, 15 days later. In Ireland, autumn records outside breeding range on southern coast are attributed to post-breeding dispersal. Rare vagrants to Britain (especially Scotland) are mostly familiaris, some unknown; exceptional record of 4 birds in Shetland, autumn 1980. 3 records in Channel Islands, October, race not known.
Central European race, macrodactyla, sedentary, with local dispersal outside breeding season. Small-scale movements reported from Alpine passes: at Col de Bretolet (western Switzerland), 15 passage birds trapped in 9 years 1954-74, but more regular at Col de la Golèze in French Alps, with 3-10 birds each year, 1966-73. Sedentary nature reflected in absence of records from Netherlands, despite breeding populations in neighbouring Belgium and West Germany. Exceptionally moves considerable distance: bird ringed southern Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), December, recovered in May, 4- years later, 100 km WNW, and bird ringed in Wauwilermoos (Switzerland), October, found dead 220 km east in Tirol (Austria) the following April; also bird (C. familiaris or Short-toed Treecreeper C. brachydactyla ringed in Hitzkirch (Switzerland), June, recovered 160 km south-west in Haute-Savoie (eastern France) in November of following year.
Corsican race, corsa, and south-west Asian race, persica, resident; perhaps some southward dispersal in Turkey.
Extralimital Asian races predominantly resident, with some vertical displacement and local dispersal in winter.
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