Harsh weather in spring presents energetic challenges to birds during migration and upon reaching the breeding grounds, and yet, birds often arrive well before breeding begins. We studied a population of Eastern Kingbirds in eastern Oregon from 2004 through 2007. Early arriving kingbirds faced the poorest weather conditions, and therefore we predicted that benefits of early arrival must exist to balance the presumed costs. Early-arriving kingbirds were more likely to both acquire a high-quality territory and to replace nests after failure. Early-arriving birds also bred early, and early breeding led to larger clutches and greater production of young. Early-arriving males also sired more extra-pair young than later arrivers. Our data suggest that arrival date is in part influenced by individual quality, and that arrival date has reproductive consequences, with the primary benefits of early arrival being the acquisition of a high-quality territory, early breeding, and increased probability of replacing failed initial nests.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology