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1 May 2012 Reevaluating the Cost of Natal Dispersal: Post-Fledging Survival of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers
Allison S. Cox, Dylan C. Kesler
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Accurate estimates of juvenile survival are critical to understanding population processes. However, information about post-fledging vital rates is lacking for most avian species because of the difficulty of following individuals after they leave the nest. We radio-tagged 43 Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) as nestlings. We tracked the birds for 5 months after fledging, during exploratory forays and after natal dispersal. We modeled the influence of intrinsic, temporal, social, and landscape factors with the potential to affect survival during the post-fledging period. Estimates of post-fledging survival were best explained by fledgling age. Predictions of weekly survival rates were 0.94 for birds 1 week after fledging, then quickly increased to over 0.99 for birds 7–22 weeks after fledging. We calculated period survival for the entire 5 months as 0.80 (95% CI: 0.65–0.90). We observed no mortalities after the birds departed natal territories, suggesting that exploratory and dispersal behaviors are not costly in this species.

© 2012 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website,
Allison S. Cox and Dylan C. Kesler "Reevaluating the Cost of Natal Dispersal: Post-Fledging Survival of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers," The Condor 114(2), 341-347, (1 May 2012).
Received: 20 May 2011; Accepted: 1 October 2011; Published: 1 May 2012
juvenile survival
Melanerpes carolinus
Population modeling
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