Jon Atwood, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
I studied the nesting behavior of the Veery (Catharus fuscescens) during the summer of 2002 in Ashuelot River Park in Keene, NH. Research on the closely-related Bicknell’s Thrush (C. bicknelli) revealed it to have a unique breeding system in which males and females mate with multiple partners, and where males provision the broods of multiple females. As was true for Bicknell’s Thrush before focused research showed otherwise, Veeries have been assumed to exhibit traditional, monogamous nesting behavior. In this study I used color-banding, radio telemetry and videography to monitor activities at Veery nests. During a total of 88.7 hrs of observation of 5 nests, no individuals other than the presumed parents were observed incubating, brooding, or feeding nestlings. Behavior of each parent at the nest, including length of attendance, rate of nest visitation, and amount of brooding rate, were examined from video footage. By demonstrating that Veeries apparently possess a typical, monogamous breeding system, this study lends support to the idea that Bicknell’s Thrush mating system may have evolved in response to habitat-specific factors rather than genetic disposition.