Avian species that persist in breeding in disturbed habitats are often thought to be less affected by disturbance than habitat specialists lost following disturbances, yet there is growing evidence that human-altered environments may negatively affect reproductive behavior and nest success of those generalists as well. We compared nest success of Blackcapped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) in two adjacent habitats: a mature mixed-wood forest (undisturbed) and a forest regenerating after logging (disturbed). Despite similar breeding densities, proportion of nests that successfully fledged young was lower in the disturbed habitat than in the undisturbed habitat. Abandonment was the most common cause of nest failure. A within-habitat comparison of the social rank of birds revealed that low-ranking birds had lower nest success than high-ranking birds in the disturbed, but not in the undisturbed, habitat. Clutch size and brood size of nests that progressed to the point of hatch did not differ significantly between habitats. Average total number of fledglings produced per pair, though not significantly different, was suggestively lower in the disturbed habitat. Across habitats, nests situated in snags with lower amounts of internal decay were more successful. Successful nests were also located in sites with higher canopy height, low understory density below 1 m, and higher understory density between 2 and 3 m—all attributes generally associated with undisturbed, mature forests in the region. Our results provide evidence that disturbed habitats may represent poor-quality habitat for this forest generalist, and that habitat quality differentially affects individuals, depending on their dominance rank.
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Vol. 121 • No. 4