We used mist nets and point counts to sample bird populations in 61 sites in Belize during January-March of 1987-1991. Sites were classified as forest, second growth, woody agricultural crops (citrus, mango, cacao, and cashew), or non-woody agricultural crops (rice and sugar cane). We evaluated patterns of occurence of wintering temperate migrant bird species in these habitats. Mist net captures of 22 of 31 migrant species differed significantly among habitats. Of these, 13 species were captured more frequently in the agricultural habitats. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia), and Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia) were among the species captured most frequently in woody agricultural habitats; captures of Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea), and Northern (lcterus galbula) and Orchard orioles (I. spur/anus) were highest in the non-woody agricultural sites. We relate these occurrence patterns to trends in breeding populations in North America. While count data provide a wide picture of winter habitat distribution of migrants, more intensive work is necessary to assess temporal and geographic variation of migrant bird use of agricultural habitats.
Additional publication details
Winter habitat occurrence patterns of temperate migrant birds in Belize