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Post-fledging behaviour and dispersal in American dippers

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(Thesis) M.Sc.
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The post-fledging period is a critical stage in the avian life cycle since foraging skill development and dispersal decisions are known to influence survival and reproductive success. I studied parental care, begging patterns and natal dispersal decisions in fledgling American dippers (Cinclus mexicanus). In contrast to studies of nestlings, begging by fledglings varied with interannual variation in parental provisioning rates but not hunger levels. Parents initially allocated food preferentially to the fledgling begging at the highest intensity and the closest proximity but did not respond to variation in begging intensity as fledglings approached independence age. Dispersal varied with females, on average, leaving before males. Males that delayed dispersal beyond 12-14 days increased their likelihood of surviving to recruitment age and gaining a local breeding vacancy.
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