Factors Influencing the Reproductive Success of Three Cavity-Nesting Birds: Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), and House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

Student Author(s)

Victoria Underhill

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kathy Winnett- Murray

Document Type


Event Date



Because of the Eastern Bluebird’s history of decline, it is important to understand how to manage the current populations by understanding what factors influence the reproductive success of the species. The objective of this study was to test the effect of species-specific nest-site occupancy and competitive interactions among species on the reproductive success of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis), Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor), and House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) using nest boxes. Nest box data were collected from May through August in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997-1999, 2001-2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010-2013 at the Consumer’s Energy J.H. Campbell Complex in West Olive, Michigan. Overall, reproductive success was greater when a particular species was using a box that was previously used by the same species, as compared with success when using a box previously occupied by a different species. This effect was also evident when examining each species separately for the Eastern Bluebirds (Χ=108.744, df=1, p<0.0001), Tree Swallows (Χ=195.687, df=1, p<0.0001), and House Wrens (Χ=100.756, df=1, p<0.0001). Reproductive success also varied by species. House Wrens had the greatest reproductive success at 63.31%, followed by Tree Swallows (59.52%), and Eastern Bluebirds had the lowest reproductive success (45.99%) (F=3.283, df=2, p=0.047). However, it was not determined in this study what caused this difference. For continuing studies, it could be worthwhile to examine the effect of surrounding topography on the reproductive success of the occupant species. It also may be worthwhile to examine the relationship of the presence of mammals in neighboring boxes and the reproductive success of the occupant species.

This document is currently not available here.