Peter T. Fauth
Author Affiliations +

I monitored 278 Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) nests in 14 forest fragments (range 7 to 500 ha) in northern Indiana to explore patterns of brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater), nest predation, and reproductive success. Density of thrushes was negatively related to area of forest fragments. Cowbirds were common throughout the landscape, but I found no relationship between their abundance and forest area. Overall, 90% of the thrush nests were parasitized by cowbirds ( = 2.4 cowbird eggs per nest). The number of cowbird eggs per thrush nest was not related to forest area, abundance of host species, or distance to a forest edge but was positively related to thrush abundance. Nest predation rates averaged 58% and were lower than those reported in much of neighboring Illinois but also were unrelated to forest area and distance to a forest edge. The combination of cowbird parasitism and nest predation resulted in relatively low reproductive success ( = 0.6 thrush fledglings per nesting attempt). I estimated that Wood Thrushes in northern Indiana made an average of three nesting attempts per breeding season (based on 17 color-marked females) and had relatively low seasonal fecundity ( = 0.9 female fledglings per adult female per season). Nonetheless, considerable annual variation in seasonal fecundity suggested that some sites exceeded the source-sink threshold in some years. Regardless, the overall landscape appeared to be part of a regional sink for Wood Thrushes, although its negative influence on regional demography was not as severe as elsewhere in the midwestern United States. The poor demographic balance in much of the agriculturally dominated Midwest suggests that conservation efforts for Wood Thrushes and other Nearctic-Neotropical migrants should be directed at preserving and enhancing possible source habitats in regions where parasitism by cowbirds and nest predation are reduced.

Peter T. Fauth "REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS OF WOOD THRUSHES IN FOREST FRAGMENTS IN NORTHERN INDIANA," The Auk 117(1), 194-204, (1 January 2000). https://doi.org/10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0194:RSOWTI]2.0.CO;2
Received: 9 October 1998; Accepted: 1 July 1999; Published: 1 January 2000
Get copyright permission
Back to Top