Breeding site fidelity and natal philopatry in the Redshank Tringa totanus



This paper presents the results of a study carried out on breeding Redshank in the Ribble Marshes, Lancashire, England.

Redshank tend to return to the same breeding area year after year. There was no detectable sex bias in return rates. Experienced birds were more site faithful than inexperienced birds, with previously successful birds exhibiting the highest degree of breeding site fidelity. Older, more experienced birds were more successful at hatching eggs than inexperienced birds.

Breeding dispersal was the same both within and between years. Faithful pairs and males nesting with a new mate dispersed significantly shorter distances than females nesting with a new partner. Dispersal distances in female Redshank were affected by breeding success: unsuccessful females, nesting with a new mate, dispersed significantly farther than successful females. A pair's breeding success influenced the following year's mate fidelity. However, other factors such as overwintering survival and date of return may also have influenced mate fidelity.

Redshank were highly faithful to their natal area; a high proportion of birds that survived post-fledging mortality returned to breed in their area of birth. No sex bias in natal dispersal was detected. Approximately 50% of Redshank breed in their first year of life.