eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 52, No. 4
Western Field Ornithologists
Using Song Dialects to Assess the Migration Strategy of the Golden-crowned Sparrow
Edward R. Pandolfino and Lily A. Douglas
ABSTRACT: Most techniques used to study migration of wild birds require capture for banding or for attachment and/or recovery of tags or transmitters. We took advantage of the fact that the Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) sings in winter, combined with published data on the distribution of its distinct song dialects in the breeding range, to assess its migration strategy and migratory connectivity by means of these dialects. Using recordings of the Golden-crowned Sparrow’s song across much of its winter range, we categorized these birds by song type to identify their likely origin in some subset of the breeding range. This method allows examination of migration without the need to capture birds. Our results fit best with a pattern of chain migration, with the northernmost breeders wintering in the northernmost part of the winter range, and the southerly breeders wintering farther south. The results suggest strong migratory connectivity between segments of the breeding and winter ranges, though our small sample size makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions on connectivity.