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Rising sea levels in the mid-Atlantic region pose a long-term threat to marshes and their avian inhabitants. The Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica), Common Tern (S. hirundo), Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger), and American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), species of concern in Virginia, nest on low shelly perimeters of salt marsh islands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Marsh shellpiles are free of mammalian predators, but subject to frequent floods that reduce reproductive success. In an attempt to examine nest-site selection, enhance habitat, and improve hatching success, small (2 ? 2 m) plots on five island shellpiles were experimentally elevated, and nest-site selection and hatching success were monitored...
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Killdeers (Charadrius vociferus) are considered a common species that inhabits a wide range of wetland and upland habitats throughout much of North America, yet recent information suggests that they may be declining regionally, if not throughout much of their range. To address this issue, we examined population trends of this species at multiple spatial and temporal scales using data from two major avian survey efforts, the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Christmas Bird Count (CBC). A summary of BBS trends indicates significant long-term (1966a??1996) declines in breeding populations across North America. Geographic regions driving this decline were Canada, western survey regions of the continent, and select southeastern...
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Conservation-oriented studies of Micronesian Kingfishers (Todiramphus cinnamominus) have been hindered by a lack of basic natural history information, despite the status of the Guam subspecies (T. c. cinnamominus) as one of the most endangered species in the world. We used tissue samples and morphometric measures from museum specimens and wild-captured Pohnpei Micronesian Kingfishers (T. c. reichenbachii) to develop methods for sex determination. We present a modified molecular protocol and a discriminant function that yields the probability that a particular individual is male or female. Our results revealed that females were significantly larger than males, and the discriminant function correctly predicted sex...
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Offshore censuses of birds are lacking for inland seas, such as the Laurentian Great Lakes, but may provide valuable information for managing species that are in conflict with human interests. Birds were counted along 31 established transects in four habitats in western Lake Erie: offshore of waterbird refuges, offshore of beaches with human development, on reefs and shoals, and in open water. A total of 161 10-min counts were conducted between 24 April and 1 September 2000. The mean number of aquatic bird species/kmA? (species density) was greater offshore of refuges than on open water. For all habitats combined, species density increased over time. This was mainly due to the arrival of Bonaparte's Gulls (Larus...
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We present an efficient and effective method for trapping adult, breeding American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) that minimizes disturbance to nesting birds and the risk of trapping injuries. We used a remote controlled mechanical decoy to lure territorial adults to a leg-hold noose-mat trap. We trapped 25 birds over two seasons and were successful on 54% of our trapping attempts in 2003. We only trapped birds before the breeding season or between nesting attempts to reduce nest-site disturbance.
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We contrasted the estimated age class of recaptured Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) (n = 255) based on bursal depth with expected age class based on bursal depth at first capture and time since first capture. Although neither estimated nor expected ages can be assumed to be correct, rates of discrepancies between the two for within-year recaptures indicate sampling error, while between-year recaptures test assumptions about rates of bursal involution. Within-year, between-year, and overall discrepancy rates were 10%, 24%, and 18%, respectively. Most (86%) between-year discrepancies occurred for birds expected to be after-third-year (ATY) but estimated to be third-year (TY). Of these ATY-TY discrepancies,...
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Both egg flotation and egg candling have been used to estimate incubation day (often termed nest age) in nesting birds, but little is known about the relative accuracy of these two techniques. We used both egg flotation and egg candling to estimate incubation day for Canada Geese (Branta canadensis interior) nesting near Cape Churchill, Manitoba, from 2000 to 2007. We modeled variation in the difference between estimates of incubation day using each technique as a function of true incubation day, as well as, variation in error rates with each technique as a function of the true incubation day. We also evaluated the effect of error in the estimated incubation day on estimates of daily survival rate (DSR) and nest...
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Several techniques have been used to capture Common Loons (Gavia immer), but effectiveness is limited during periods of the breeding season when loons do not have chicks. From 2005 to 2008, we studied loons in northern Wisconsin and used night lighting to capture loons on nests and also designed a lift net for capturing loons prior to nesting. At night, incubating loons were approached by boat and, when within about 30-60 m, we focused a spotlight on the loon and, once at the nest, captured loons using a landing net. Using this technique, we captured 23 loons in 29 attempts (79%). In addition, taped calls and loon decoys were used to entice prenesting, territorial loons into a shoreline-based, lift-net trap at a...
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Movement ecology and demographic parameters for the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser americanus) in North America are poorly known. We used band-recovery data from five locations across North America spanning the years 1938-1998 to examine migratory patterns and estimate survival rates. We examined competing time-invariant, age-graduated models with program MARK to study sources of variation in survival and reporting probability. We considered age, sex, geographic location, and the use of nasal saddles on hatching year birds at one location as possible sources of variation. Year-of-banding was included as a covariate in a post-hoc analysis. We found that migratory tendency, defined as the average distance between...
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We studied molt and size variation in Whiskered Auklets collected at sea in August from the Aleutian Islands in 1992 and 1993. We evaluated size differences from external and skeletal measurements. Adults were molting extensively in August, indicating that molt began in July. Primaries 1-5 had been completely replaced, while primaries 6-8 were in various stages of replacement, and primaries 9 and 10 were old in most birds. We also found that juveniles were not molting. This pattern is similar to other species of small auklets where breeding and molt in adults overlap, but juveniles do not molt until the following summer. This suggests that Whiskered Auklets are subjected to similar ecological constraints as other...
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The nest and nesting behaviorof a pair of Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers ( Habia rubica rubica) from Paraguay is described. Results are compared with those from studies of other subspecies. Because the species occurs in temperate, subtropical, and tropical habitats from Mexico south to Paraguay, northern Argentina, and southeastern Brazil, we expected details of breeding to differ in different parts of the range. Other than differences in the timing of breeding north and south of the equator, only details of nest structure and egg coloration showed geographic variation.
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Estimating the size of bird populations is central to effective conservation planning and prudent management. I updated estimated regional bird populations for the East Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi using data from 275 North American Breeding Bird Surveys from 2009 to 2013. However, regional bird populations estimated from count surveys of breeding birds may be biased due to lack of empirical knowledge of the distance at which a species is effectively detected and the probability of detecting a species if it is present. I used data recorded within two distance classes (0–50 m and >50–400 m) and three 1-min time intervals on 130 Breeding Bird Surveys to estimate detection probability and effective detection distance...
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Flotation of eggs in water and specific gravity of eggs of Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) and Great Egrets (Casmerodius albus) were evaluated as methods to determine date of hatching. Length of incubation and duration of hatching period were also documented for each species. Although species gravity was a better predictor of hatching date than egg flotation, both techniques were imprecise. The regression between specific gravity and the number of days before hatching differed among clutches, but not among eggs within clutches. Specific gravity of eggs predicted hatching data only to within 3.8 d for Snowy Egrets, adn 4.7 d for Black-crowned Night-Herons and Great...
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During three winter seasons (1991-1994), we studied the distribution and abundance of birds in three habitat types of the Georgia Piedmont. Bird densities were calculated using data from 2160 variable circular-plot counts, 720 each in the interiors of the three habitats. Habitat variables were measured in 135 0.04-ha circles, 45 in each of the three habitats. The objective was to compare bird densities during winter in the Piedmont?s fragmented mature (60+ yr) pine forests and upland hardwood forests with those in planted pine plantations, a major replacement type. A total of 49 species was detected: 44 in mature pines, 42 in mature upland hardwoods, and 32 in 20-30-yr old pine plantations. Twenty-nine species occurred...
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We used playback of rail vocalizations and improved trap design to enhance capture of fall migrant Soras (Porzana carolina) and Virginia Rails (Rallus limicola) in marshes bordering the tidal Patuxent River, Maryland. Custom-fabricated microchip message repeating sound systems provided digitally recorded sound for long-life, high-quality playback. A single sound system accompanied each 30-45 m long drift fence trap line fitted with 1-3 cloverleaf traps. Ramped funnel entrances improved retention of captured rails and deterred raccoon (Procyon lotor) predation. Use of playback and improved trap design increased trap success by over an order of magnitude and resulted in capture and banding of 2315 Soras and 276 Virginia...