Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 231–239 | Cite as

Arrival timing and seasonal reproductive performance in a long-distance migratory landbird

  • Robert J. Smith
  • Frank R. Moore
Original Article


The date when a landbird migrant arrives on its breeding grounds may have reproductive consequences. Generally, early arriving individuals begin breeding earlier and consequently experience greater seasonal reproductive performance. Here, we describe relationships between arrival timing and seasonal reproductive performance in the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), a long-distance passerine migrant, arriving at northerly breeding grounds in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. Evidence suggests that both males and females benefited from early arrival at the breeding grounds. Early males appeared to settle on higher quality territories and hatched nestlings sooner than later arrivals. Early females began their clutches early, produced heavier nestlings and possibly laid more eggs than later arrivals. Larger clutches and heavier offspring increase the likelihood of offspring recruiting into the breeding population. The findings of this study point to fitness consequences arising from when a bird arrives at its breeding grounds. These results also have implications for understanding how events occurring during spring migration influence reproductive performance as migratory delays likely influence arrival timing.


Arrival timing Landbird migrant Migration–breeding linkage Setophaga ruticilla 



We are grateful to members of the University of Southern Mississippi Migratory Bird Laboratory, both past and present: Jeff Buler, David Cimprich, Jeff Clark, Colleen Dwyer, Jeff Farrington, Sarah Mabey, Jen Owen, Chris Szell, Stefan Woltman and Mark Woodrey all contributed significantly to this work. The comments of David Beckett, David Ewert, Tom Sherry, Susan Walls, Wolfgang Wiltschko and two anonymous reviewers significantly improved the manuscript. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Dissertation Improvement Award (DEB-0073190), the Animal Behavior Society, Eastern Bird Banding Association, Sigma Xi, the Frank M. Chapman Memorial Student Research Fund, the Kalamazoo Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Barbara and Gerry Meyers. We thank Hiawatha National Forest for permission to perform this research on Forest Service property and we are grateful to The Nature Conservancy, (notable David Ewert) and Mic Hamas of Central Michigan University for logistical help. Finally, we thank our field crews for their dedicated efforts. This study complied with current laws of the USA and the State of Michigan (Federal Bird Banding Permit No. 21221, State of Michigan Bird Banding Permit No. SC 1002).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of ScrantonScrantonUSA

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