Survival of fledgling songbirds can be influenced by habitat characteristics at multiple spatial scales, and identifying the relative influence of habitat characteristics at the micro (immediately surrounding fledglings) and meso (level of stand or cover type) scales is important for management and conservation planning. We modeled survival of fledgling Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla) in managed forest in north-central Minnesota by using micro-scale and meso-scale habitat characteristics and nestlings' mass as explanatory variables. Meso-scale variables (e.g., use of logging roads and distance to cover types other than those used for nesting) better explained fledgling Ovenbirds' survival than did nestlings' mass or micro-scale variables, including ground cover, litter depth, vegetation density, and food availability. Crossing of logging roads had the strongest relationship with survival of fledgling Ovenbirds: survival of fledglings that crossed roads was 50% lower during the first 8 days after fledging and 33% lower 9–16 days after fledging than that of fledglings that did not cross roads. We conclude that although micro-scale habitat characteristics can influence fledgling Ovenbirds' survival, meso-scale characteristics have a much stronger effect. We believe nestlings' mass had little influence on survival because mass may be a poor indicator of body condition, and regardless of condition most predation occurs before fledglings are capable of eluding predators. Because of the association between logging roads and fledglings' reduced survival, we suggest that reclamation of abandoned logging roads, a process underway on many federal lands, could have a positive effect on populations of ground-dwelling forest birds in managed forests.
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Vol. 115 • No. 2