Golf courses ostensibly offer green space in urbanized areas, but it is unclear how suitable these human-modified habitats are for wildlife populations. Golf courses are home to a variety of wildlife, but in particular they have been the focus of research on avian responses to urbanization. Although numerous reproductive and diversity studies have been conducted on birds of golf courses, no research exists on postfledging survival in this created landscape. In 2008 and 2009, we estimated survival of eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) fledglings using radio telemetry on golf course and other developed sites in Williamsburg, Virginia. We used nest survival models in Program MARK set in an information theoretic framework to assess whether the golf course habitat predicted mortality along with other previously studied variables, such as fledgling age, year, site, body condition, fledging date, and transmitter weight. We found no evidence that inhabiting a golf course increased mortality during the fledgling period, but we did find support for both fledgling age and fledging date as predictors of survival. Mortality decreased for older fledglings and those that fledged later in the season. Cause-specific postfledging survival rates did not differ among sites. Fledgling bluebirds did, however, move into habitat that was significantly more forested and less grassy than their natal habitat. For managers of wildlife on golf courses and other urbanized sites, our study is the first to show that placing nest boxes in manicured habitat may attract birds to areas without suitable habitat for fledglings.
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Vol. 75 • No. 5