eWestern Birds

The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists

Vol. 36, No. 4
December 2005
Western Field Ornithologists

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Breeding Ecology of the Gray Flycatcher in Pinyon–Juniper Woodlands in New Mexico
Christopher B. Goguen, David R. Curson, and Nancy E. Mathews

ABSTRACT: We studied the breeding ecology of the Gray Flycatcher as part of a long-term study of bird communities of pinyon–juniper in northeastern New Mexico, 1992–2002. All years combined, we located and monitored 37 nests and measured vegetation and habitat characteristics at most nests. Clutch-initiation dates ranged from 12 May through 14 July with a peak from late May to early June. Mean clutch size was 3.65 eggs but was significantly lower in later nests than in early nests. Mayfield nest success was 31% with most (93%) unsuccessful nests failing because of predation. Only one nest (3%) was parasitized by a cowbird. Nest height averaged 2.32 m with most nests placed close to or against the main trunk within the middle portion of a tree. Positioning the nest close to the trunk increases nest concealment and may represent a strategy to avoid predation. Gray Flycatchers nested primarily in pinyon pines (Pinus edulis; 62% of nests) and junipers (Juniperus spp.; 35%). On average, the flycatchers built nests in areas with taller and denser canopies, steeper slopes, and higher densities of trees, especially junipers./p>

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