Presentation Title

An investigation of the population spread and potential host species of the Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura), an exotic obligate brood parasite, in southern California

Presenter Information

Joseph R. Gamez, CSU FullertonFollow

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#82

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

Many obligate brood parasites such as North America’s most abundant avian brood parasite, the Brown-headed Cowbird, have been shown to significantly decrease the fitness and population viability of naïve species; making them a conservation concern. Pin-tailed Whydahs (Vidua macroura), a parasitic finch from sub-Saharan Africa, are an exotic pet and it is assumed that escaped individuals are the cause of frequent sightings in southern California. We investigate the pattern of population spread and the potential host species of Pin-tailed Whydahs in southern California by measuring occurrence and relative abundance of songbirds where whydahs are found. In the whydah family, most species mimic host courtship songs; if Pin-tailed Whydahs utilize song mimicry, their songs can give insight into the species they parasitize. Songs of whydahs and potential host species in southern California are being recorded and analyzed using Raven Pro and are being compared to songs of whydahs in Africa to determine if song mimicry of host species is occurring. Survey data is consistent with observations on eBird that whydahs are in greater abundance currently than in past years. House Finches, Lesser Goldfinches, House Sparrows, and Scaly-breasted Munias have been found to occur in high frequency and abundance with Pin-tailed Whydahs; making them potential host species. Pin-tailed Whydah mating behavior, copulation, visitation to nests of Scaly-breasted Munias, and young-of-the-year have been observed in field sites. Scaly-breasted Munias have been confirmed to be feeding and caring for fledgling whydahs, making them the leading candidate as the primary host in southern California.

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An investigation of the population spread and potential host species of the Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura), an exotic obligate brood parasite, in southern California

HUB 302-#82

Many obligate brood parasites such as North America’s most abundant avian brood parasite, the Brown-headed Cowbird, have been shown to significantly decrease the fitness and population viability of naïve species; making them a conservation concern. Pin-tailed Whydahs (Vidua macroura), a parasitic finch from sub-Saharan Africa, are an exotic pet and it is assumed that escaped individuals are the cause of frequent sightings in southern California. We investigate the pattern of population spread and the potential host species of Pin-tailed Whydahs in southern California by measuring occurrence and relative abundance of songbirds where whydahs are found. In the whydah family, most species mimic host courtship songs; if Pin-tailed Whydahs utilize song mimicry, their songs can give insight into the species they parasitize. Songs of whydahs and potential host species in southern California are being recorded and analyzed using Raven Pro and are being compared to songs of whydahs in Africa to determine if song mimicry of host species is occurring. Survey data is consistent with observations on eBird that whydahs are in greater abundance currently than in past years. House Finches, Lesser Goldfinches, House Sparrows, and Scaly-breasted Munias have been found to occur in high frequency and abundance with Pin-tailed Whydahs; making them potential host species. Pin-tailed Whydah mating behavior, copulation, visitation to nests of Scaly-breasted Munias, and young-of-the-year have been observed in field sites. Scaly-breasted Munias have been confirmed to be feeding and caring for fledgling whydahs, making them the leading candidate as the primary host in southern California.