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Neotropical migratory bird monitoring study at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California—2021 annual data summary

June 12, 2024

Executive Summary

Two Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) stations were operated at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton (MCBCP), California, in 2021: one at De Luz Creek and one at the Santa Margarita River. The stations were established to provide data on Neotropical migratory birds at MCBCP to support the dual missions of environmental stewardship and military readiness.

A total of 1,227 individual birds were captured in 2021 between the two stations: 395 at De Luz and 832 at Santa Margarita (both 15 banding days). Of these 1,227 individuals captured, 955 were newly banded (273 at De Luz and 682 at Santa Margarita), 150 were recaptures banded before 2021 (28 at De Luz and 122 at Santa Margarita, excluding recaptures released before reading band number [1 at De Luz and 3 at Santa Margarita]), and 118 were unbanded (93 at De Luz and 25 at Santa Margarita). Return rate in 2021 was much lower than the annual mean at De Luz (1995–2019) and similar to the annual mean at the Santa Margarita station (1998–2020). The sex ratio of known-sex adult birds was skewed toward males at both stations in 2021.

Species richness was similar at De Luz from 2019 to 2021, increased at Santa Margarita from 2020 to 2021 and was above annual means at both sites (1995–2019 and 1998–2020, respectively). The most abundant species at De Luz were Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) and Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin). Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) and Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) were most abundant at Santa Margarita.

Since 2002, we have examined the population trends of 12 species at De Luz and 13 species at Santa Margarita for which numbers of known-age individuals were adequate for statistical analysis. We estimated population size and calculated indices of productivity and survival for a subset of these species with sufficient captures and recaptures for valid parameter estimation—four at De Luz and six at Santa Margarita. We determined that in 2021, abundance of 42 percent (5 of 12) of focal species at De Luz and 38 percent (5 of 13) of focal species at Santa Margarita was below the annual mean abundance. Of the focal species below mean abundance, 40 percent (2 of 5) at De Luz and 60 percent (3 of 5) at Santa Margarita were migrant populations. Of the focal species, 25 (3 of 12) percent at De Luz and 31 percent (4 of 13) at Santa Margarita had declining population trends during the span of station operation. With few exceptions, these declines appeared to be associated with conditions on the breeding grounds.

Annual productivity (calculated as the ratio of juveniles to adults among individual captures) was zero for all focal species at De Luz in 2021. At Santa Margarita, productivity increased from year 2020 to 2021 for Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, and Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) and declined from year 2020 to 2021 for Least Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), but productivity was above the 1998–2020 mean for all four species, whereas productivity was maintained for Orange-crowned Warbler (Leiothlypis celata) and Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens). Winter precipitation affected productivity of Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus), Common Yellowthroat, and Song Sparrow at De Luz and affected productivity of Common Yellowthroat, Orange-crowned Warbler, Song Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Yellow Warbler at Santa Margarita.

We calculated the mean annual adult survival for 1998–2020 at Santa Margarita, excluding years when the station was not operated. Survival could not be calculated for De Luz in 2021 because the station was not operated in 2020. Model-averaged annual adult survival ranged from 42 to 66 percent for residents and from 30 to 66 percent for migrants at Santa Margarita. Survival of Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, and possibly Yellow Warbler was found to be affected by winter precipitation. Sex was a significant predictor of survival for Common Yellowthroat, Least Bell’s Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat at Santa Margarita, where females were found to have lower survival than males.

At Santa Margarita, multiple regression analyses examining adult survival and productivity as predictors of future population size indicated that resident Song Sparrow and migrant Yellow Warbler populations were affected by population size from the previous year, migrant Yellow-breasted Chat populations were affected by productivity from the previous year, and migrant Orange-Crowned Warbler populations were affected by survival from the previous year. Updated previous-year population size predictions could not be calculated for De Luz because the station was not operated in 2020.

Publication Year 2024
Title Neotropical migratory bird monitoring study at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California—2021 annual data summary
DOI 10.3133/ofr20241024
Authors Shannon Mendia, Barbara E. Kus
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2024-1024
Index ID ofr20241024
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center