From 1971 through 2003, Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla) at the Hemlock Hill Biological Research Area in northwestern Pennsylvania never bred in forest interior. Instead, they exhibited atypical habitat selection for breeding by occupying regenerating forest edges. Pairs in 14 territories, the entire population, showed normal annual return rates and pairing rates compared with other studies. For this ground-foraging bird, other studies showed that deep soil litter is preferred—but at my study site, soil litter depth in Ovenbird-occupied areas was lower than that found in the unoccupied forest interior. During May, July, and August, songs played in forest interior to attract Ovenbirds to settle there were unsuccessful. I tested the hypothesis that eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) abundance influenced this atypical habitat selection. Chipmunks were nearly absent from Ovenbird territories, but were abundant in the forest interior. I discuss habitat selection in birds in relation to simple cues and relate this to variation in habitat selection and use found in Ovenbirds.
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