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Nest-site selection in the Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis) in central New Hampshire

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Reproductive success in birds is largely influenced by nest-site selection. Nest predators are the greatest source of nest failure for most species of birds. Species that nest on the ground may be particularly adapted to maximally conceal nests to reduce the risk of loss to predators. Little is known about nest-site selection in the Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis (L., 1766)), a small ground-nesting Neotropical migrant. We predicted higher amounts of vegetative cover at successful nests of Canada Warblers compared with unsuccessful nests because detection by predators would decrease with greater cover. We measured vegetative characteristics (concealment, stem densities, ground cover) around each nest and compared these variables between successful and unsuccessful nests and between actual nests and mock nest sites on and off territories. Greater concealment and higher stem densities were the main features surrounding a successful nest site. Nest sites had significantly greater concealment when compared with both random mock nest sites on and off territories. Thus, concealment is important for this ground nester and achieved primarily through thick cover and strategic nest placement in vertical substrate with an inconspicuous opening to the nest cup. Forests with complex ground structure and thickets of small-stemmed woody plants should be targets of conservation when considering how to manage this declining species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Plymouth State University, 17 High Street, MSC #64, Plymouth, NH 03264, USA.

Publication date: 2011-12-16

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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