Annual Adult Survival Rates of Blackbirds and Starlings

  • Fankhauser D
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The purposes of this study were (1) to determine annual adult survival rates from banding data for each sex of the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater), Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula), Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), and Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), and (2) to compare survival rates calculated from band returns with survival rates calculated from band recoveries. Others have studied annual adult survival of the starling. Kluijver (1935) found the rate to be 50 percent in Holland, and Lack and Schifferli (1948) found it to be 48 percent in Great Britain and 37 percent in Switzerland. Kessel (1957) estimated an annual survival of 42.5 percent for starlings more than 6 months of age in the Northeast (United States). From non-banding data, she concluded that at Ithaca, New York, male starlings have a higher survival rate than females. Also from non-banding data, Davis (1959) claimed mortality rates of 56 percent (44% survival) for the male and 70 percent (30% survival) for the female. Coulson (1960) studied survival of banded starlings using some 7,000 recovered in Great Britain. He wrote: "The sex-ratio of the starling changes over a short period at the end of the birds' first year to give a marked predominance of males. This can only be explained by a male mortality of 39 percent and a female mortality of 70 percent in the first year of life from 1 August. This differ- ential mortality probably arises through more first-year females than males breeding in their first year."

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  • Don P. Fankhauser

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