Many Neotropical migratory species inhabit both mature and early successional forest on their wintering grounds, yet comparisons of survival rates between habitats are lacking. Consequently, the factors affecting habitat suitability for Neotropical migrants and the potential effects of tropical deforestation on migrants are not well understood. We estimated over-winter survival and capture probabilities of Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina), and Kentucky Warbler (Oporomis formosus) inhabiting two common tropical habitat types, mature and early-successional forest. Our results suggest that large differences (for example, ratio of survival rates (gamma) < 0.85) in overwinter survival between these habitats do not exist for any of these species. Age ratios did not differ between habitats, but males were more common in forest habitats and females more common in successional habitats for Hooded Warblers and Kentucky Warblers. Future research on overwinter survival should address the need for age- and sex-specific survival estimates before we can draw strong conclusions regarding winter habitat suitability. Our estimates of over-winter survival extrapolated to annual survival rates that were generally lower than previous estimates of annual survival of migratory birds. Capture probability differed between habitats for Kentucky Warblers, but our results provide strong evidence against large differences in capture probability between habitats for Wood Thrush, Hooded Warblers, and Ovenbirds. We found no temporal or among site differences in survival or capture probability for any of the four species. Additional research is needed to examine the effects of winter habitat use on survival during migration and between-winter survival.
Additional publication details
Overwinter survival of neotropical migratory birds in early successional and mature tropical forests