Stopover Habitat Along the Shoreline of Northern Lake Huron, Michigan: Emergent Aquatic Insects as a Food Resource for Spring Migrating Landbirds

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Biological Sciences


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Recent work in Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula suggests that terrestrial areas bordering northern Lake Huron provide important stopover habitat for spring migrating landbirds, principally because of the presence of emergent aquatic midges (Diptera: Chironomidae). Migrants were concentrated in lakeshore habitats abundant with midges during spring migration. American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) and Black-throated Green Warblers (Dendroica virens) foraged and used habitat differently, depending on their distance from the lakeshore. Here, we describe results of an integrative study in which we sampled resources, quantified American Redstart foraging behavior, and estimated mass change in American Redstarts and five other common migrant landbird species to evaluate the importance of adult midges as an early season resource for spring migrants. Resource sampling and American Redstart foraging behavior suggested that more food was available in shoreline habitats than inland during spring migration. Furthermore, migrants gained mass in shoreline habitat during stopover, which supports the argument that nearshore areas provide important stopover habitat for spring migrants. Finally, resource sampling, mass change estimates, and American Redstart foraging behavior suggested that midges and spiders (Araneae: Arachnidae) provided an important early season resource for migrating landbirds. Evidence suggests that midges were responsible for elevated spider abundance at the shoreline and that birds foraged on both midges and spiders. Midges appear to play an important role in providing high-quality stopover habitat for landbirds migrating through Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula.

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