In response to continued low population numbers of Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) in North America and to increase knowledge of the geographic variation in pintail survival rates, we estimated 126-day (27 October–2 March) survival for male and female pintails wintering in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico, during 2001–2002 (SY1) and 2002–2003 (SY2). Sixty-nine adult male and female pintails were marked with radio-transmitters and tracked throughout the study period. Weekly relocation data in relation to study year, sex, time (week), body condition at capture, and hunting seasons were modeled using the known-fate procedure in Program MARK. Year, sex, time, and body condition covariates did not improve model performance in estimating survival, so we used the most parsimonious model to produce an overall winter survival estimate of 0.597 ± 0.077 (95% C.I. = 0.442–0.735). Weekly survival estimates did not differ between hunting and nonhunting seasons. Male and female point estimates did not differ (χ12 = 0.209, P = 0.65). Our adult female survival estimate of 0.639 ± 0.117 (95% C.I. = 0.396–0.827) was 5.5%–28.6% lower than published estimates for adult female pintails in 5 other geographic regions. No winter survival estimates for males in other geographic regions were available for direct comparison with our study. Although relatively small sample sizes may have contributed to the lack of statistical differences in weekly survival between years, sexes, and hunting seasons, as well as to the lack of influence of body condition, relatively abundant water and food resources and absence of hunting in a refuge setting contributed to consistent survival probabilities. Because our low survival estimates, relative to other geographic regions, cannot be attributed to hunting, we postulate that natural causes of mortality play a larger role in pintail survival in our study region than in other wintering regions.
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Vol. 67 • No. 1