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Lights, Noise, Nesting? Effects of Human Disturbances on Reproduction in Cavity-Nesting Songbirds

Haley M. Howerin1,* and Sarah L. Foltz1

1Radford University, Box 6931, 801 E. Main Street, Radford, VA 24141. *Corresponding author.

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 30, Issue 3 (2023): 329–346

Human habitat disturbances impact wildlife, including cavity-nesting birds. We explored species-specific relationships between 4 anthropogenically altered nest-box features (canopy cover, human activity, noise, and artificial light at night) on the nest-box use, nestling quality, and fledgling success of Sialia sialis (Eastern Bluebird) and Tachycineta bicolor (Tree Swallow). Both species, but especially Tree Swallows, used boxes with lower canopy cover, and Tree swallows used boxes with more human activity, while Bluebirds used low-activity boxes. Fledging success varied significantly by species, and nestling quality showed a weak positive trend with noise. These results suggest that impacts of human disturbance should be considered on a species-by-species basis, even in groups with significant overlap in habitat preference and life-history traits.

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