Mass and recapture histories of 6,000 Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria ) banded in upper Chesapeake Bay were used to test two hypotheses: (1) early-winter body mass is associated with the probability of surviving the winter, and (2) early-winter body mass is associated with annual survival probability. Results for adult males, which provided the largest data sets, presented strong evidence that birds with high relative early-winter masses had both greater overwinter and annual survival probabilities. Results of overwinter analyses necessarily are qualified by the alternative explanation of mass-dependent emigration, i.e. the possibility that lighter birds move south in response to cold weather and leave only heavy birds for recapture. Such a phenomenon remains to be documented.
Additional publication details
The relationship between body mass and survival of wintering canvasbacks