Spring Dispersal Patterns of Red-winged Blackbirds, Agelaius phoeniceus, Staging in Eastern South Dakota
Keywords:Agelaius phoeniceus, Red-winged Blackbird, breeding range, color-marking, dispersal patterns, northern Great Plains, spring migration, sunflower damage
AbstractRed-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) are very abundant summer residents throughout the Prairie Pothole Region of central North America. In late summer they assemble in post-breeding flocks that cause significant amounts of agricultural damage, particularly in sunflower fields near natal sites. In April 2001, we aerially color-marked ~370,000 Red-winged Blackbirds near Badger, South Dakota (44°48'N, 97°21'W), to determine if migrants staging here were summer residents in sunflower production areas ~350 km to the northwest. We measured patterns of migratory dispersal by collecting birds in 54 randomly selected blocks in the northcentral U.S. and the Prairie Provinces of Canada. The marked specimens (n = 33) were categorized into three polygons based on analyses of banding and re-sighting data and proximity to concentrated sunflower production. We estimated that 82% of the migrants that had staged in eastern South Dakota resided within or on the periphery of the sunflower growing area. These birds probably stay near their breeding territories until at least late August and cause early damage to sunflower, which comprises the majority of damage. Resident birds in Alberta and most of Saskatchewan (18%) might arrive too late in the damage season to impact the sunflower crop significantly.
Copyright for Canadian Field-Naturalist content is held by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club, except for content published by employees of federal government departments, in which case the copyright is held by the Crown. In-copyright content available at the Biodiversity Heritage Library is available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence. For usage of content at the BHL for purposes other than those allowed under this licence, contact us.
To request use of copyright material, please contact our editor, Dr. Dwayne Lepitzki: editor -at- canadianfieldnaturalist -dot- ca