Tracking Purple Martins across different stages of the annual cycle to examine dispersal and foraging behavior
Kristen Lalla, McGIll University
Kristen’s thesis explored Purple Martin behavior during 3 periods of the annual cycle to better understand the decline of this species, especially in the northeastern population which has experienced more drastic declines. Firstly, both breeding and overwintering foraging behavior were studied using GPS biologgers to determine foraging range and foraging habitat selection of Purple Martins, highlighting the importance of water-type habitats for foraging. Secondly, the breeding success and post-fledging dispersal of Purple Martins in Quebec and Ontario (Canada) was quantified. Breeding success of Quebec Purple Martins was comparable to other parts of North America, and the departure of young birds from the colony was predicted by lay date and habitat characteristics. These results highlight the importance of habitat conservation for Purple Martins in addition to current efforts focusing on providing managed housing.