• Corresponding Editor: J. M. Marzluff.


Population responses of synanthropic species to urbanization may be explained by the resource-matching rule, which postulates that individuals should distribute themselves according to resource availability. According to the resource-matching rule, urban habitats will contain greater densities if they provide better resources than rural habitats. However, because resource availability is density dependent, individuals in urban areas would ultimately achieve fitness levels comparable to, but no better than, individuals in less urban areas. Some ecologists suggest that synanthropic birds may not conform to the resource-matching rule and may instead overmatch (i.e., overexploit) in urban habitats, ultimately leading to lower fitness despite greater resource levels. Using the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) as a focal species, we evaluated if Cardinal populations in urban and rural habitats were consistent with predictions of consumer resource matching. During 2003–2006 we documented population density, adult body condition, apparent survival, and annual reproductive productivity of Cardinals in riparian forest stands within urban (n = 8 stands) and rural (n = 6 stands) landscapes in Ohio, USA. Density of Cardinals in urban forests was four times that found in more rural forests. Mark–resight data from 147 males and 125 females over four years indicated that apparent survival rates were similar between urban and rural landscapes (ϕ = 0.64, SE = 0.039 for males and ϕ = 0.57, SE = 0.04 for females). Similarly, body condition indices of 168 males, 142 females, and 118 nestlings did not differ significantly between landscapes. Annual reproductive productivity (mean number of fledglings per pair over breeding season) of 294 pairs was comparable for urban (2.4 ± 0.18 [mean ± SE] and rural (2.1 ± 0.18) young birds. Thus, contrary to recent suggestions, we find that high densities of certain synanthropic species in urban landscapes are consistent with expectations of consumer resource matching.