We investigated site fidelity and apparent survival in a promiscuous population of Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows (Ammodramus caudacutus) in southern Rhode Island. Based on capture–recapture histories of 446 color-banded sparrows studied from 1993 to 1998 at our primary study site, Galilee, we observed significant variation in apparent survival rates among years, but not between sexes. Return rates of adult males (37.6%) and females (35.6%) were not significantly different during any year. Juveniles exhibited high return rates, ranging from 0 to 44%, with males (61% of returns) more likely to return than females (35%). In addition, we monitored movements of 404 color-banded sparrows at nine satellite marshes in 1997 and 1998, which supported our findings at Galilee and documented intermarsh movements by 10% of all banded birds. Lack of gender-bias in adult dispersal and strong natal philopatry of sparrows in Rhode Island occurs regularly among passerines possessing a variety of mating systems. Despite emancipation from parental and resource defense duties, adult male Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows exhibited apparent survival rates similar to adult females. Availability of high-quality breeding habitat, which is patchy and saturated, may be the most important factor limiting dispersal for Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows in Rhode Island.
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