Adults and juveniles of some forest breeding birds shift habitat use during the post breeding season from late to early successional forest. Juveniles of smaller passerine species are difficult to radio-track, and there is limited information on their habitat preferences, especially once they become older and independent. We determined if independent hatch-year birds captured in early-successional habitat remained there for extended periods, or if these habitats were only occupied infrequently during foraging activities. We determined habitat use for Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla), Worm-eating Warblers (Helmitheros vermivorum) and Red-eyed Vireos (Vireo olivaceus) during the independent post-fledging period in the Missouri Ozarks. We placed radio transmitters on 29 hatch-year birds captured in clearcuts and attempted to relocate them for 24 days in the summer of 2012. All three species had a greater relative probability of use of clearcut forest stands with small trees than older forests. Ovenbirds and Worm-eating Warblers remained in the early-successional habitat where initially captured, whereas Red-eyed Vireos used both late and early-successional habitat. Management efforts have primarily focused on breeding habitat for migratory songbirds, but the post-breeding period could be equally important given that hatch-year birds can spend an equal or greater amount of time in this stage. More information is needed to determine how widespread this habitat shift is for mature forest-breeding birds.
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Vol. 129 • No. 2