Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

October 2004


ABSTRACT.-Renesting decisions and annual fecundity are crucial for interpreting other demographic information, yet are infrequently reported. We used radiotelemetry to monitor female Dickcissels (Spiza americana) throughout the 1999 and 2000 breeding seasons in southeastern Illinois. Overall fecundity (regardless of whether females remained in the study area throughout the breeding season) was 0.61 ± 0.13 female fledglings per year. Of females that remained within the study area, 94% fledged young (1.25 ± 0.15 female fledglings per year). Most females (62%) that experienced nest failure emigrated from the study area (moved >10 km) in 2.8 ± 0.6 days; others (36%) initiated subsequent nests in 8.5 ± 0.8 days. After fledging ~1 young, 95% of females ceased breeding for the season. Successful and failed nest sites were indistinguishable on the basis of vegetative characteristics. Moreover, replacement nests had similar vegetative characteristics and were similar distances from habitat edges, compared with initial nests, which suggests that female Dickcissels do not or cannot "improve" nest-site characteristics in response to nest failure. We observed two behaviors unusual in female Dickcissels: one bird that fledged two broods in one season, and the return of five females banded in 1999 to the study site in 2000.