Date of this Version
Western North American Naturalist 74(1), © 2014, pp. 123–129.
The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a polygynous species, and females are typically responsible for the majority of parental care. Despite their limited involvement, males can contribute to reproduction through nest defense and the feeding of nestlings. Some aspects of nest defense may be learned, and older males are more likely to feed young, suggesting that males with previous breeding experience may enjoy higher nest success than their naïve counterparts. We manipulated territory ownership on 10 wetlands in central North Dakota in order to examine the influence of breeding experience on reproductive success. We found no evidence that breeding experience increased nest survival (x– = 23.0%) or increased the number of fledglings per nest (x– = 2.2). In this population, territory quality may contribute more to nesting success than male parental contributions.