Mist netting is widely used to monitor the reproductive success of passerines, yet little is known about its effects on bird ecology. Using a 25-year data set from central California, we evaluated the effects of constant-effort mist netting on the reproductive performance of the Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) and Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). We compared nest survival, number of young fledged, and an index of nestling condition (mass corrected for body size) at nests where at least one parent was captured while the nest was active to these variables at nests where neither parent was captured. We also compared these characteristics for nests at varying distances from nets run at different frequencies. Wrentit nestlings from nests closer to less frequently run nets were in poorer condition than those from nests close to more frequently run nets and than those far away from any nets. For the Song Sparrow, daily nest survival was higher where at least one parent was captured while the nest was active. For all other comparisons, there was no statistical evidence that mist netting had an effect on reproductive performance of these species. This information should ease concerns about the use of mist nets in monitoring avian demographics.
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Vol. 111 • No. 3