Natal dispersal (km)

Figure 17.5 Relationship between the geometric means of the natal and breeding dispersal distances of various bird species, based on recoveries from the British ringing scheme. From Paradis et al. (1998).

a breeding failure than after a success,5 possibly related to site quality, (d) a tendency to move to better territories (where previous breeding success was high) through early life,6 possibly related to increase in status and competitive ability; and (e) a strong tendency for a change of territory to be associated with a change of mate.7 Sex differences in the frequency of territory changes are accompanied by differences in the distances moved, and in most studied species, females moved more often and further than males. These various patterns have been confirmed in a wide range of studied species (but not all). In addition, some birds changed territory immediately after their spring arrival, in response to local food depletion, ectoparasite abundance, absence of mate, or other factors likely to reduce breeding success (Feare 1976, Korpimaki 1993, Brown & Brown 1992), and again females generally moved further than males.

Sex differences in breeding site-fidelity have been noted in more than half the species so far studied, from passerines to raptors, shorebirds and seabirds (for other examples see Tables 17.1 and 17.2). In some species they are pronounced. For example, in the European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca, 93% of surviving males returned each year to their previous nesting locality, while only 39% of surviving females did so, the rest moving elsewhere (von Haartman 1949). The difference in behaviour between the sexes of this species was also shown by experiment (Berndt & Sternberg 1968). In one year, when most of the ringed females in 40 ha of woodland were laying or incubating, all nest boxes were removed, including the occupied ones. The males remained in the area and continued singing, but only one day after box removal, not a single female could be found. Of the 146 females involved, 37 were found later in the same season nesting in other woods nearby, having moved 1.4-18.3 km, some to areas where they had bred in previous years. This was about the same range of distances as female flycatchers would normally have moved between years.

5Examples: Newton & Marquiss (1982), Shields (1984), Beletsky & Orians (1991), Hepp & Kennamer (1992), Payne & Payne (1993), Reed & Oring (1993), Jackson (1994), Haas (1998), Serrano et al. (2001), Blums et al. (2002), Sedgewick (2004), Winkler et al. (2004).

6Examples: Hilden (1979), Matthysen (1990), Montalvo & Potti (1992).

7Examples: Johnston & Ryder (1987), Bradley et al. (1990), Payne & Payne (1993), Newton (2001), Howlett & Stutchbury (2003).

Table 17.4 Within-season nest site-fidelity and mate-fidelity in the Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe in Indiana

Males Females


Table 17.4 Within-season nest site-fidelity and mate-fidelity in the Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe in Indiana

Same nest-site in same territory

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