The movement patterns, range areas and energetics of canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) wintering in the upper Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, were investigated. Eighty-seven juvenile female canvasbacks were radio-tracked between 30 December 1988 and 25 March 1989. Diurnal time and energy budgets were constructed for a time of day-season matrix for canvasbacks using riverine and main bay habitats. Canvasbacks were very active at night, making regular and often lengthy crepuscular movements (x = 11.7 km) from near shore habitats during the day to off shore habitats at night. Movement patterns were similar for birds using habitats on the eastern and western shores of the Bay. Canvasbacks had extensive home ranges averaging 14,286 ha, and used an average of 1.97 core areas. Sleeping was the predominant diurnal behavior. Telemetry indicated that canvasbacks actively fed at night. Canvasbacks spent more time in active behaviors (e.g. swimming, alert) on the eastern shore than on the western shore. Similarly, canvasbacks were more active during daytime hours at locations where artificial feeding occurred. Behavioral patterns were only weakly correlated with weather patterns. Canvasbacks appeared to reduce energy expenditure in mid-winter by reducing distances moved, reducing feeding activities and increasing the amount of time spent sleeping. This pattern was observed even though 1988-89 mid-winter weather conditions were very mild.
Additional publication details
Movements and bioenergetics of canvasbacks wintering in the upper Chesapeake Bay
Thesis (M.S.)--Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University