Nocturnal social cues attract migrating yellow-breasted chats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We tested the hypothesis that migrating birds use nocturnal conspecific song when selecting stopover habitat using data from the Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens). We broadcast nocturnal song in unsuitable habitat (i.e., a manicured orchard) and alternated broadcast nights with nights where no song was broadcast. We caught significantly more individuals (8 males, 7 females) on mornings following treatments relative to control nights when no songs were broadcast (2.5 vs. 0 birds/morning, respectively). Eleven of 15 (73) chats were removed from the nets after sunrise (mean 32 min after sunrise, range 560 min), and birds were captured on overcast, cloudy, and clear mornings. Only one bird was recaptured at the site, and only one male was detected singing at the site, suggesting individuals quickly left the area. Conspecific nocturnal songs for chats appear to be an important cue for selecting stopover habitat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)780-783
Number of pages4
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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