The Effect of Feeder Hotspots on the Predictability and Home Range Use of a Small Bird in Winter


Timothy C. Roth II, Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA.


Few studies address how resources and predation risk affect movement patterns and the overall spatial use of prey species. Although movement is generally considered to be dangerous, at large scales, movement may be important for predator avoidance and the predictability of such movement may be key. We examine the movement patterns of a small bird (Junco hyemalis) in winter to better understand how these birds might respond to the trade-off of unpredictable movements for predator avoidance with the foraging benefits of visiting large, predictable food sources. We manipulated resources by adding feeders to junco home ranges and compared the movement patterns of these flocks to those without access to feeders. Juncos with access to feeders were more spatially and temporally predictable, had reduced movement rates and smaller home range sizes. Our results suggest that the influence of resource distribution on junco movements is high. Juncos with highly productive and predictable resource hotspots may place more value on resources than remaining unpredictable. Consequently, they may be employing non-movement methods of anti-predator behavior, such as vigilance, at feeders, although this requires further investigation.