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1 July 2013 Condition Varies with Habitat Choice in Postbreeding Forest Birds
Scott H. Stoleson
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Many birds that are experiencing population declines require extensive tracts of mature forest habitat for breeding. Recent work suggests that at least some may shift their habitat use to early-successional areas after nesting but before migration. I used constant-effort mist netting in regenerating clearcuts (4–8 years postcut) and dense mature-forest understories to assess (1) whether most bird species of mature forests show habitat shifts after breeding; and (2), on the basis of several measures of condition, whether birds using early-successional habitats garnered any benefits or penalties, compared with those that remained in forests. I captured 3,845 individual birds of 46 species at four pairs of sites in mature Allegheny hardwood forests in northwestern Pennsylvania during the postbreeding periods of 2005–2008. Most, but not all, forest birds were captured at higher rates in cuts than in forests, and that pattern persisted through the postbreeding season. Using an information-theoretic approach, I found strong support for a species-habitat interactive effect on both molt progression and body condition as measured by residuals from speciesspecific regression of mass on wing chord. Some, but not all, forest birds appeared to be in better condition when captured in cuts than when in forests. I found no support for a habitat effect on presence of fat or ectoparasites. My result s reveal that habitat choice in the postbreeding season is correlated with physiological condition for a subset of forest birds, which suggests that the maintenance of such early-successional habitats in mature forest may benefit these species.

© 2013 by The American Ornithologists’ Union. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website,
Scott H. Stoleson "Condition Varies with Habitat Choice in Postbreeding Forest Birds," The Auk 130(3), 417-428, (1 July 2013).
Received: 15 November 2012; Accepted: 1 May 2103; Published: 1 July 2013

body condition
early-successional forest
habitat choice
mature-forest birds
postbreeding period
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