A life history study of the yellow throat

Wilson Bulletin




Investigations concerning the life history of the Yellow-throat were made in southern Michigan during the spring and summer of 1938. Supplementary information was also obtained at Arlington, Virginia, in 1940 and at the Patuxent Research Refuge, Maryland, in 1947.....Resident males established territories almost immediately upon arrival in spring. In southern Michigan some resident males arrived at least as soon as, if not before, transient males. Most females appeared on their nesting ground about a week later. Adults were engaged in nesting activities from the time of their arrival in spring until the advent of the post-nuptial molt in late summer.....Typical Yellow-throat habitat consists of a mixture of a dense herbaceous vegetation and small woody plants in damp or wet situations. At Ann Arbor, the Yellow-throat was a common breeding species in its restricted suitable habitat. The population density in one area of suitable habitat was about 69 territorial males per 100 acres. Of 11 territorial males that were intensively studied, one was polygamous (with two mates), nine were monogamous, and one was probably monogamous (with at least one mate).....The song of the individual Yellow-throat was heard throughout the breeding season except for the courtship period. Two major types of song were the common song given while perched, and an occasional, more elaborate, flight song. Most males sing in spurts, singing at fairly regular intervals for a considerable period and then abruptly ceasing for another period. The vocabulary of both sexes included several types of call notes that appeared either to have special functions or to represent outward expressions of distinct emotional states of the bird.....Resident males were antagonistic toward each other throughout the breeding season. Most remained on well-established territories during this period. Territories of 10 monogamous males ranged in size from .8 to 1.8 acres but the territory of one polygamous male occupied. 3.4 acres. The behavior of males during inter-territorial encounters was similar in some respects to their behavior when courting females.....While courting females, the males are very attentive and seldom sing for about one week. During the courtship period the female locates the nesting site and builds the nest without assistance from the male.....Nests, constructed of dried plant materials, were situated on or near the ground and were supported on all sides by stems of herbaceous plants or limbs of shrubs. Many nests were composed of three layers with the coarser materials being used in the outer layer.....The full clutch of eggs in 12 nests ranged from 4 to 6 (average, 4.6). Early clutches seem to be larger than later ones. After the first egg is laid, one is laid on each succeeding day until the clutch is complete. Incubation period is about 12 days. Incubation is only by the female. Records of daytime incubation schedules of three females about half way through incubation indicate that the periods spent on and off the nests average about 61 and 16 minutes, respectively.....Young Yellow-throats usually remain in the nest for eight or nine days. During this period they grow and develop rapidly. Their weight quintuples in six days. Both sexes are active in feeding the young and in removing excreta from the nest. Records of feeding at three nests showed a range of one feeding per 5 1/2 minutes to one feeding per 22 minutes, the rate increasing with age of young. Adults care for the young for at least two weeks after the young leave the nest.....Ten of 12 females that were intensively studied were successful in raising young beyond the nestling stage. Only one of these raised two broods, although three females built at least three nests each. In 19 nests, 11 (58 per cent) produced nestlings and 7 (37 per cent) produced fledglings. In total, the 19 nests produced an average of one fledgling Yellow-throat per nest. Of 22 nests that were found near Ann Arbor, 10 (45

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A life history study of the yellow throat
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Wilson Bulletin
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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
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Wilson Bulletin
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