Population biology of White-crowned Sparrows: Residence time and local movements of juveniles

Myron Charles Baker, Gregory L. Sherman, Tad C. Theimer, Dana C. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A field study of the ranging behavior of post-fledging White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli) was carried out in undisturbed natural habitat in the Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin Co., California, USA. Forty-three first-brood juveniles, with tail feathers still growing, were banded at an estimated average age of 27 days and re-trapped an average of an additional 24 days for a total minimum time in residence in the immediate natal area of 51 days (Table 1). The distance from the site of first capture to subsequent recapture sites was about 60 m until age 35 days; then the distance increased to about 250 m by age 50 days (Fig. 2). These data indicate that the average juvenile White-crowned Sparrow completes at least the first 50 days of life in its natal area. Experimental work on song ontogeny has previously demonstrated that the sensitive period for song learning ends at about 50 days. Hence, young in our study population probably learn their natal dialect prior to any major dispersal movements. The correspondence between residence time and song learning would have the consequence of perpetuating song dialects as geographically structured populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-137
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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