To test the potential effects of winds on the migratory detours of shearwaters, transequatorial migrations of 3 shearwaters, the Manx Puffin us puffinus, the Cory's Calonectris diomedea, and the Cape Verde C. edwardsii shearwaters were tracked using geolocators. Concurrent data on the direction and strength of winds were obtained from the NASA SeaWinds scatterometer to calculate daily impedance models reflecting the resistance of sea surface winds to the shearwater movements. From these models we estimated relative wind-mediated costs for the observed synthesis pathway obtained from tracked birds, for the shortest distance pathway and for other simulated alternative pathways for every day of the migration period. We also estimated daily trajectories of the minimum cost pathway and compared distance and relative costs of all pathways. Shearwaters followed 26 to 52% longer pathways than the shortest distance path. In general, estimated wind-mediated costs of both observed synthesis and simulated alternative pathways were strongly dependent on the date of departure. Costs of observed synthesis pathways were about 15% greater than the synthesis pathway with the minimum cost, but, in the Cory's and the Cape Verde shearwaters, these pathways were on average 15 to 20% shorter in distance, suggesting the extra costs of the observed pathways are compensated by saving about 2 travelling days. In Manx shearwaters, however, the distance of the observed synthesis pathway was 25% longer than that of the lowest cost synthesis pathway, probably because birds avoided shorter but potentially more turbulent pathways. Our results suggest that winds are a major determinant of the migratory routes of seabirds
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