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    We measured vegetation at shrub patches used for nesting by Yellow-breasted Chats (Icteria virens) to evaluate the importance of nesting habitat patch features on nest predation, cowbird parasitism, and nest site selection. Logistic regression models indicated that nests in small patches (average diameter <5.5 m) that were parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) experienced higher predation than unparasitized nests in large patches. Nests in large patches were more likely to become parasitized by cowbirds, as were nests with more large stems (>10 cm dbh) nearby. Patches used by chats for nesting had larger average diameters than unused patches and tended to contain more small stems. Chats appeared to prefer large patches and experienced lower nest predation there. Although they might experience higher brood parasitism frequencies in large patches, losses to parasitism were balanced by higher nesting success because the mean number of chat young that fledged did not differ between nests in small versus large patches.

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    Burhans, Dick E.; Thompson III, Frank R. 1999. Habitat patch size and nesting success of yellow-breasted chats. The Wilson Bulletin. 111(2): 210-215. (1999)


    Yellow-breasted charts, shrub patches, nesting, Brown-headed cowbirds

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