Age- and sex-dependent spring arrival dates of Eastern Kingbirds

Nathan W. Cooper, Michael T. Murphy, Lucas J. Redmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Among migratory passerines, the first birds to arrive on the breeding grounds are usually older males. Early arrival by older birds may be driven by experience, age-dependent changes in body condition, age-dependent access to resources during the nonbreeding period, or latitudinal segregation by age. Males may arrive earlier than females (protandry) because males maintain better condition due to greater access to resources during the winter, or because selection favors early arriving males that acquire the best territories or experience enhanced mating opportunities. During a 4-yr study (2004-2007) in Oregon, we found that older Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus), regardless of sex, arrived nearly a week before younger birds and that males arrived about 5 d before females. Age- and sex-dependent arrival dates do not appear to be related to differences in body condition, social dominance in winter, or latitudinal segregation, and protandry is unrelated to the ability of early-arriving males to acquire high-quality territories. Instead, we propose that young birds have less to gain from early arrival because of their probable inability to displace experienced birds from prime territories and that protandry evolved due to enhanced mating opportunities for early arriving males that arise from the high rates of extra-pair matings in our population of Eastern Kingbirds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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