ABSTRACT

Saltmarsh Sparrows (Ammospiza caudacuta) are highly specialized tidal marsh obligates that are predicted to go extinct within this century as inundation of nests becomes increasingly frequent due to sea level rise. Short-term strategies for boosting reproductive success are greatly needed while best management practices for habitat restoration are being developed. Fostering orphaned chicks in active nests may be one such strategy. Males provide no parental care, so the loss of a nesting female will doom the brood. We confirmed the predation of a female attending a nest that contained two 6-day-old chicks. We translocated these 2 nestlings into an active Saltmarsh Sparrow nest at the site with similar-aged chicks. All chicks reached fledging age and were gone from the nest soon thereafter. This is the first documented case of a nestling translocation of a Saltmarsh Sparrow being performed, and it appeared to be successful, although survival of the fledglings throughout the subsequent year remains to be documented. Based on our result, translocation bears further experimentation and modeling to determine the probability of success and potential contribution to population trends.

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