Comparison of Winter Habitats in Jamaica Used by American Redstarts

January 1, 2006 by Gregory Gough

As tropical forests are cut down, habitat for birds that nest in temperate regions, and migrate to overwinter in tropical areas, is lost. However, for some species, some agricultural habitats may provide adequate winter habitat.

small red and orange bird

The American redstart, a bird that nests in eastern North America, was studied in Jamaica on its wintering grounds. This small songbird inhabits a variety of wooded areas where it searches for its insect prey.

It was studied in 4 natural habitats: mangrove, coastal scrub, coastal palm, and dry limestone forest; and 2 agricultural habitats: citrus orchard and shade grown coffee plantation.

Redstarts were most common in mangrove, coastal scrub, and shade coffee. Coastal palm and citrus orchard supported lower numbers and the dry limestone forest was the least favored habitat.

So both the shade coffee plantation and citrus orchard provided winter habitat for the American redstart. Both these agricultural areas provide trees in which the redstarts forage.

This article summarizes the information in this scientific paper:

Johnson, Matthew D., Sherry, Thomas W., Holmes, Richard T. and Marra, Peter P. 2006. Assessing Habitat Quality for a Migratory Songbird Wintering in Natural and Agricultural Habitats. Conservation Biology, 20(5): 1433-1444.

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