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30 December 2020 Radio-tracking reveals insight into survival and dynamic habitat selection of fledgling Cerulean Warblers
Douglas W. Raybuck, Jeffery L. Larkin, Scott H. Stoleson, Than J. Boves
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For most bird species, little is known about their ecology and survival between fledging and independence despite the potential for post-fledging survival to be a factor limiting population dynamics. Cerulean Warblers (Setophaga cerulea) are a declining migratory species, and full-life-cycle conservation efforts that include the post-fledging period are warranted to attempt to reverse their decline. To understand movement, habitat selection, and survival, we radio-tracked 20 fledglings throughout the dependent post-fledging period. Broods were split by their parents, typically (88%) left parental breeding territories within 12 days, and survivors moved 2.4 ± 0.7 km (mean ± SE) from their nest within the 28.1 ± 1.8 day tracking period. Fledglings were usually observed in the mid-canopy to upper canopy and selected habitat with greater mid-story cover, less basal area, and areas closer to water bodies, compared to available points, when considering data from the entire post-fledgling period. However, habitat selection varied with fledgling age. Young fledglings (0–2 days post-fledging) selected areas with greater sapling cover and less stand basal area, but as fledglings matured, they selected areas farther from canopy gaps with greater mid-story cover. Compared with nesting habitat selected by parents, fledglings used areas with smaller and more numerous trees, fewer canopy gaps, and greater mid-story cover. Survival of the entire period was 48 ± 14% and most (8/10) mortalities occurred within the first 3 days post-fledging. Evidence indicated eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) as the most common predator. Providing or retaining large tracts of forest is recommended to prevent the restriction of post-fledging dispersal, and managing forests to maintain a heterogeneous landscape that includes stands with numerous canopy gaps and dense understory (e.g., shelterwood harvests or late seral stage conditions) as well as stands with a dense mid-story (e.g., younger stands and riparian areas) appears to be important for this life stage.

Published by Oxford University Press for the American Ornithological Society 2019. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
Douglas W. Raybuck, Jeffery L. Larkin, Scott H. Stoleson, and Than J. Boves "Radio-tracking reveals insight into survival and dynamic habitat selection of fledgling Cerulean Warblers," The Condor 122(1), 1-15, (30 December 2020).
Received: 26 May 2019; Accepted: 22 November 2019; Published: 30 December 2020
Cerulean Warbler
habitat selection
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