I investigated the causes and consequences of adult breeding-site fidelity, territory fidelity, and natal philopatry in Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii) in southeastern Oregon over a 10-year period, testing the general hypothesis that fidelity and dispersal distances are influenced by previous breeding performance. Willow Flycatchers adhered to the generally observed tendencies of passerine birds for low natal philopatry and high breedingsite fidelity. Site fidelity (return to the study area) of adult males (52.0%) and females (51.3%), and median dispersal distances between seasons (16 m vs. 19 m) were similar. Previous breeding performance and residency (age-experience), but not study-site quality, explained site fidelity in females. Site fidelity of females rearing 4–5 young (64.4%) exceeded that of unsuccessful females (40.0%), breeding dispersal was less (successful: 15 m; unsuccessful: 33 m), and novice residents were more site-faithful than former residents. Probability of site fidelity was higher for previously successful females (odds ratio = 4.76), those with greater seasonal fecundity (odds ratio = 1.58), novice residents (odds ratio = 1.41), and unparasitized females (odds ratio = 2.76). Male site fidelity was not related to residency, site quality, or previous breeding performance. Territory fidelity (return to the previous territory) in females was best explained by previous breeding performance, but not by site quality or residency. Previously successful females were more likely to return to their territory of the previous season than either unsuccessful (odds ratio = 14.35) or parasitized birds (odds ratio = 6.38). Male territory fidelity was not related to residency, site quality, or previous breeding performance. Natal philopatry was low (7.8%) and similar for males and females. Site quality appeared to influence philopatry, given that no birds reared at a low-quality study site returned there to breed, and birds reared there dispersed farther than birds reared at two other study sites. My results partially support the hypothesis that site fidelity is an adaptive response: (1) previously successful females that switched territories underperformed those that did not switch (P = 0.01); and (2) previously unsuccessful females that switched territories outperformed those that did not switch, but not significantly (P = 0.22).
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Vol. 121 • No. 4