Catastrophic events can create ecological crunches for avian populations. Ornithologists generally assume that such events elicit immediate, dramatic declines in populations followed by rapid recolonization of a site with habitat recovery. Despite total inundation of habitats within the South Platte floodplain of eastern Colorado during the 1983 breeding season, populations of Brown Thrashers (Toxostoma rufum) and Rufoussided Towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) did not decline significantly from 1982 densities. However, populations of both species declined significantly in 1984 and towhee populations remained low in 1985. These observations support speculations from recent studies of shrubsteppe bird populations that site tenacity may play a stronger role in determining annual densities of breeding birds than previously realized.