Post-independence fledgling ecology in a migratory songbird: Implications for breeding-grounds conservation

Animal Conservation
By: , and 



For migratory songbirds, breeding-grounds conservation and management plans are generally focused on habitat associated with locations of singing males and sometimes nesting females. However, habitat structure is often different in areas used for raising fledglings compared with areas used for song territories, and very little is known about habitat use by fledglings after independence from adult care. From 2010 to 2012, we used radiotelemetry to monitor 68 fledgling golden-winged warblers Vermivora chrysoptera after independence from adult care in mixed managed forests of Minnesota, US and Manitoba, Canada. This species is of high conservation concern in the US, is listed as threatened in Canada and is listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. We assessed distance and orientation of independent fledgling movements and we used compositional analysis to test for selection among cover types. Fledglings of this species, commonly described as a shrubland specialist, selected mature forest (78% of locations) over all other cover types, and foraged in forest canopy and understory in mixed-species flocks. Fledgling golden-winged warbler movements were apparently associated with habitat optimization (although prioritizing foraging over predator avoidance), and likely not with commencement of migration, or scouting future breeding territories. Ten days after independence, fledglings were an average of 1238 m north of their nest, which may be related to homing-target formation and the species' northward range expansion. We conclude that consideration for independent fledgling habitat associations is necessary for developing full-fledged forest management plans on the breeding grounds of migratory songbirds.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Post-independence fledgling ecology in a migratory songbird: Implications for breeding-grounds conservation
Series title Animal Conservation
DOI 10.1111/acv.12163
Volume 18
Issue 3
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 8 p.
First page 228
Last page 235
Country Canada, United States
State Manitoba, Minnesota
Other Geospatial Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sandilands Provincial Forest, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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