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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Most migrating songbirds are required to stopover to rest and replenish their fat reserves, and suitable stopover habitat is vitally important to their survival and success securing territories at their breeding and wintering grounds. Identifying and protecting stopover locations and movement corridors is essential to connecting all life stages of these species, yet there remain significant knowledge gaps regarding the utilization of stopover sites and fine-scale movements during migration, particularly at inland stopover areas. We investigated the factors that influence stopover duration and migration rate of ten migratory songbirds within the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in the Northeastern United States during two fall and spring seasons in 2015 and 2016 at 5 banding sites using automated telemetry. We expected that fat and mass would influence stopover duration and migration rate, in that birds with larger fat stores and greater masses would make shorter stopovers, and migrate faster than leaner birds. We also expected that birds would move faster in spring, and minimize time later in the season, by making shorter stopovers and migrating faster as the season progresses. A lower percentage of our focal species departed the banding sites within 24 hours compared to other studies in coastal and urban sites, indicating that more birds made stopovers. Sixteen percent of birds made prolonged stopovers (> 7 days) in spring, and 38 % in fall, highlighting the importance of the refuge for long term refueling. Spring birds made shorter stopovers, and traveled at faster rates than fall birds, suggesting there is may be more pressure for early arrival at breeding grounds. Spring birds captured with significant fat loads made shorter stopovers, and traveled faster than leaner birds. Spring birds also appeared to employ a time minimization strategy, with birds captured later in the season making shorter stopovers. Migration rate of spring birds decreased with distance from the capture site, indicating many birds needed to make additional stopovers. Fall birds that made longer stopovers migrated at faster rates. Fall birds captured later in the season made longer stopovers, and subsequently traveled at faster rates once they departed to possibly minimize time on migration. Variation in stopover behavior was evident among sites and species and this may suggest habitat or site characteristics that affect their value for migrating birds, which should be taken into consideration when conservation planning or vulnerable species. The extensive use of this inland National fish and wildlife refuge by migratory birds, and the fact that birds are acquiring energy reserves that are facilitating successful migration suggests this region is an important corridor for migrating songbirds.


First Advisor

David I. King

Second Advisor

Alexander Gerson

Third Advisor

Curtice Griffin