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1 March 2000 Perch Proximity Correlates with Higher Rates of Cowbird Parasitism of Ground Nesting Song Sparrows
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Abstract

The reproductive success of avian brood parasites depends, to a great extent, on their ability to locate host nests that are at the appropriate stages of the host laying cycle. Consequently, brood parasites are expected to possess elaborate mechanisms and search modes to locate potential host nests. Through observing a population of Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) we examined two specific factors that may influence cowbird parasitism of a ground nesting host. Proximity to potential perches was a significant predictor of cowbird parasitism, but overhead nest visibility, either classified dichotomously as visible or not, or measured as the absolute area of a nest visible to an observer, was not correlated with the likelihood of parasitism. Comparisons with previous studies suggest that female cowbirds use similar nest searching mechanisms in open habitats, irrespective of the height of host nests.

Mark E. Hauber and Stefani A. Russo "Perch Proximity Correlates with Higher Rates of Cowbird Parasitism of Ground Nesting Song Sparrows," The Wilson Bulletin 112(1), (1 March 2000). https://doi.org/10.1676/0043-5643(2000)112[0150:PPCWHR]2.0.CO;2
Received: 16 April 1999; Accepted: 1 August 1999; Published: 1 March 2000
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