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Recent findings in non-migratory birds have reopened questions about the interpretation and seasonal organization of Zugunruhe. I address the relationship between Zugunruhe and migration by comparing underlying circannual patterns in captive populations of migratory and non-migratory stonechats. Zugunruhe was highly variable and lacked clear periodicity, indicating its sensitivity to external cues. Patterns of Zugunruhe were similar in African residents, European short-distance migrants, and Siberian long-distance migrants, revealing no major difference in circannual organization. Moult was regulated independently of Zugunruhe and timed more rigidly, particularly in stonechats from equatorial Africa. The persistent and variable circannual patterns of Zugunruhe suggest that non-migratory and migratory stonechats have similar underlying programs but have modified the expression of actual migration. The findings, together with published observations from other species, emphasize the importance of considering programs for migration in a wide range of species, without losing sight of its environmental context.