The impact of variation in stopover habitat quality on migrant rufous hummingbirds

  • Russell R
  • Carpenter F
  • Hixon M
 et al. 
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We examined the impact of variation in habitat quality on migrating Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) in the California Sierra Nevada. As do other migratory species, these birds depend on "stopover" habitats en route for feeding and replenishing depleted energy stores. During seven years of study, the quality of the stopover habitat (assessed in terms of the density of nectar food resources) varied widely due to natural variation in flowering. In years when stopover habitat quality was poor, incoming body masses were low and stopover durations were long. Population densities of migrant hummingbirds at the study site were coupled to habitat quality both within and among years. These observations demonstrate important effects of stopover habitat variation on the physiological, behavioral, and population ecology of migrating hummingbirds. High-quality stopover habitats are critical links between breeding and wintering areas for many species, and their preservation should be considered an essential component of strategies aiming to conserve migratory bird populations. CR - Copyright © 1994 Wiley

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  • R. W. Russell

  • F. L. Carpenter

  • M. A. Hixon

  • D. C. Paton

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