Reproductive correlates of spring arrival date in the Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus

Abstract

Harsh weather in spring presents energetic challenges to birds during migration and upon reaching the breeding grounds, and yet, birds often arrive well before breeding begins. We studied a population of Eastern Kingbirds in eastern Oregon from 2004 through 2007. Early arriving kingbirds faced the poorest weather conditions, and therefore we predicted that benefits of early arrival must exist to balance the presumed costs. Early-arriving kingbirds were more likely to both acquire a high-quality territory and to replace nests after failure. Early-arriving birds also bred early, and early breeding led to larger clutches and greater production of young. Early-arriving males also sired more extra-pair young than later arrivers. Our data suggest that arrival date is in part influenced by individual quality, and that arrival date has reproductive consequences, with the primary benefits of early arrival being the acquisition of a high-quality territory, early breeding, and increased probability of replacing failed initial nests.

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Acknowledgments

We are greatly indebted to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for providing access to the study site, and to Cal and Alice Elshoff for providing housing. Portland State University supported NWC and LJR through separate Forbes-Lea Research Grants in 2006. A National Science Foundation Grant to MTM (IOB-0639370) supported all research activities in 2007. We also thank Amy Dolan and Karen Sexton for assistance in the field in 2004 and 2005. A special thanks goes to B.K. Cooper and S.C.M. Hunter for their ongoing inspiration and encouragement. All work performed complied with applicable federal laws, and permits were obtained where necessary.

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Correspondence to Nathan W. Cooper.

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Communicated by F. Bairlein.

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Cooper, N.W., Murphy, M.T., Redmond, L.J. et al. Reproductive correlates of spring arrival date in the Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus . J Ornithol 152, 143–152 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-010-0559-z

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Keywords

  • Arrival date
  • Migration
  • Extra-pair fertilization
  • Renesting
  • Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Weather