Increasing evidence suggests that the environment encountered by migrating landbirds during the nonbreeding season, including temperature and precipitation, may influence individuals and population processes in subsequent seasons. However, to date, most studies have focused on linkages between factors encountered during the wintering and breeding periods in long-distance, primarily insectivorous landbirds. Here, we take advantage of a long-term (23 breeding seasons) data set on the arrival and breeding ecology of female field sparrows (Spizella pusilla), a granivorous, short-distance species that winters in the southeastern USA, to look for time periods (windows) over the preceding winter and spring migratory periods when average daily precipitation or temperature may have influenced when a female arrived at breeding grounds in northeastern Pennsylvania and correlates of seasonal reproductive performance. We employed a sliding window analysis approach using weather data obtained from the south of our site (to evaluate effects of weather experienced during the nonbreeding period) and, separately, near our site (to evaluate effects of weather experienced during the breeding period), finding windows in which temperature and precipitation during the nonbreeding period were associated with arrival timing and clutch initiation day and a window in which temperature experienced during the breeding period was associated with clutch initiation day. We did not, however, find evidence that temperature or precipitation, either during the nonbreeding period or breeding period, was associated with clutch size nor total egg volume. Finally, early arriving females initiated clutches early, produced larger clutches, more nests, and more total eggs than later arriving females. Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that events experienced prior to the breeding season may influence individuals and population processes in subsequent seasons.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis