Perch proximity correlates with higher rates of Cowbird parasitism of ground nesting Song Sparrows

Mark E. Hauber, Stefani A. Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The reproductive success of avian brood parasites depends, to a great extent, on their ability to locate host nests that are at the appropriate stages of the host laying cycle. Consequently, brood parasites are expected to possess elaborate mechanisms and search modes to locate potential host nests. Through observing a population of Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) we examined two specific factors that may influence cowbird parasitism of a ground nesting host. Proximity to potential perches was a significant predictor of cowbird parasitism, but overhead nest visibility, either classified dichotomously as visible or not, or measured as the absolute area of a nest visible to an observer, was not correlated with the likelihood of parasitism. Comparisons with previous studies suggest that female cowbirds use similar nest searching mechanisms in open habitats, irrespective of the height of host nests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-153
Number of pages4
JournalWilson Bulletin
Volume112
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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