Arrival timing and seasonal reproductive performance in a long-distance migratory landbird

RJ Smith
Frank R. Moore, University of Southern Mississippi


The date when a landbird migrant arrives on its breeding grounds may have reproductive consequences. Generally, early arriving individuals begin breeding earlier and consequently experience greater seasonal reproductive performance. Here, we describe relationships between arrival timing and seasonal reproductive performance in the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), a long-distance passerine migrant, arriving at northerly breeding grounds in Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula. Evidence suggests that both males and females benefited from early arrival at the breeding grounds. Early males appeared to settle on higher quality territories and hatched nestlings sooner than later arrivals. Early females began their clutches early, produced heavier nestlings and possibly laid more eggs than later arrivals. Larger clutches and heavier offspring increase the likelihood of offspring recruiting into the breeding population. The findings of this study point to fitness consequences arising from when a bird arrives at its breeding grounds. These results also have implications for understanding how events occurring during spring migration influence reproductive performance as migratory delays likely influence arrival timing.