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Hurricane Survival in Central Florida of Some Resident Birds

Richard Poole, Christine Brown
North American Bird Bander
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Hurricane Survival in Central Florida of Some Resident Birds

Bird banding al Wekiwa Springs State Park (WSSP), located north of Orlando, FL, has been conducted throughout the year since September 2002. Early in 2002 the area was logged and burned to control Southern Pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis). Vegetation around the nets is primarily small pines and oaks with a few tall trees.

During the summer of 2004, three hurricanes traversed central Florida, Charley on 13 Aug, Frances on 5 Sept, and Jeanne on 25 Sep. Their approximate wind speeds in central Florida were: Charley — 105 mph, Frances — 70 mph and Jeanne — 80 mph.

We compared the number of captures of individual birds of five resident species in WSSP from 1 Jun thru 25 Sep and individual recapture rates from 26 Sep thru 31 Dec for 2003, 2004 and 2005 Table 1 ). Species examined were Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus).

Recapture percentages for the five species appeared to be higher or about the same when comparing 2004 to 2003 (Table 1). When comparing 2004 to 2005, percent capture rates appeared to be less for Carolina Wren and Tufted Titmouse after the hurricanes in 2004, about the same for Eastern Towhee and less for Northern Cardinal and White-eyed Vireo.

Visual/aural counts were also taken in the area of the nets in 2004 and 2005. Total number of species and individuals for 2004 were: 24 Jul, 6 and 12; 29 Aug, 10 and 15; 19 Sep 15 and 29; 16 Oct, 11 and 29; and for 2005: 22 Jul, 8 and 19; 27 Aug, 6 and 23; 24 Sep, 12 and 27; and 22 Oct, 11 and 24.

While not definitive, these data suggest that the birds survived the three hurricanes of 2004 without severe loss. The wren, titmouse, towhee, and vireo are primarily insect eaters. The cardinal consumes insects, as well as fruit and seeds. Studies have shown that insectivores survive hurricanes better than frugivores and nectivores (Askins and Ewert 1991, Waide 1991, Wunderlele, Jr. 19981. Waur and Wunderle, Jr. (1992) suggest that hurricanes' greatest effect occur after passage because of destroyed food source rather than during impact.

Richard Poole and Christine Brown

150 Essex Drive

Longwood, FL 32779

(See PDF for table and citations.)

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pp-23-24.pdf (359.75 KB)

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