Winter band recovery distributions of North American Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) suggested that males and females exhibit comparable degrees of fidelity to general wintering areas. Of birds banded during the winter, the proportion of males was found to be higher in northern than in southern areas. Winter band recovery distributions of birds banded in particular areas during the summer were found to differ significantly between sexes, with females being recovered farther south. Factors that may have affected the evolution of sex-specific wintering distributions include: (1) possible reproductive benefits derived by males who winter in the north and thus reach northerly breeding areas early; (2) sexual dimorphism in body size, which may render the smaller females especially susceptible to periods of inclement weather and food shortages; and (3) interactions between sexes in which males may control food supply when food is scarce. Two lines of evidence from field data on Canvasbacks in the Chesapeake Bay suggest the existence of competition between males and females. First, Canvasbacks trapped during winter in smaller bodies of water tended to have higher proportions of females and weigh less than birds trapped in large open bodies of water. Second, analysis of aerial photographs of wintering rafts of Canvasbacks showed patterns of intersexual segregation, with females being found more frequently on peripheral areas of rafts.
Additional publication details
Sex-specific differences in winter distribution patterns of canvasbacks