Identifying sources of annual variation in the reproductive success of a species may provide valuable insights into how the species may be affected by future environmental or climatic conditions. We examined annual variation in the nesting phenology, productivity, and apparent nest success of Mississippi Kites (Ictinia mississippiensis), a species common in urban areas in the southern Great Plains, from May through August. We monitored 498 Mississippi Kite nesting attempts in Lubbock, Texas, USA, between 2004 and 2015, from which we modeled daily survival rate as a function of local weather conditions, drought severity, and the state of the El Niño Southern Oscillation. We observed significant annual variation in median incubation initiation date (range = May 20 to June 5), the probability of nest success (range = 0.31–0.90), and productivity (range = 0.25–1.00 fledglings per nest). Our models of daily survival rate suggested that higher daily temperatures, severe storm events, extreme drought conditions, and La Niña events negatively influenced nest survival. These results suggest that increasing storm frequency and higher temperatures associated with climate change are likely to decrease the nesting success of Mississippi Kites in the southern Great Plains.
Additional publication details
Environmental influences on the nesting phenology and productivity of Mississippi Kites (Ictinia mississippiensis)