Red-winged blackbirds are polygynous and show strong breeding site preferences, but it is unclear which environmental factors regulate their reproductive success and are ultimately responsible for shaping their patterns of habitat selection and their mating system. We evaluated the effect of variation in insect emergence rates on the reproductive success of male and female redwings nesting on replicate ponds. The number of male and female redwings that settled on a pond varied two- to three-fold among ponds, but was not related to insect emergence rates. Insect emergence rates had a positive effect on the number of nestlings successfully fledged by females, the number of nestlings fledged from male territories, and on the mass of nestlings at fledging. Typha stem density also varied widely among ponds, and was positively related to male and female settling density and mass of nestlings at fledging, but not to the number of nestlings fledged by females or males. We conclude that alternative breeding sites differ in their ability to support redwing reproduction, and that the availability of emerging odonates is an important environmental factor influencing the reproductive success of both male and female red-winged blackbirds.
- Aquatic insects
- Habitat selection
- Harem size
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics