Investigating the Winter Nocturnal Nest Box Use of the Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)
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Nest boxes are used during the breeding season by many cavity-nesting birds; however, less is known about the use of nest boxes as sites for roosting during the winter non-breeding season. The Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus; hereafter BCTI) is a member of the family Paridae, which is a family containing birds known to utilize nest boxes during the winter seasons. However, the BCTI is a species with undocumented or unknown roosting behavior. For this study, possible factors influencing the propensity for winter roosting in the BCTI were examined. I conducted nocturnal surveys on nest boxes with the use of a wireless infrared cavity inspection camera across two winter field seasons. I analyzed the influence of nightly weather conditions and vegetation on winter roosting. For the weather variables affecting the probability of roosting, a decrease in temperature was found to increase BCTI roosting. Vegetation density 15 m from nest boxes was also found to influence roosting with an increase in vegetation leading to an increase in roosting frequency. This study has shown nest boxes are of use to BCTI during the non-breeding season and has shed light on some of the factors influencing their winter roosting behavior. These findings can be useful to wildlife managers who aim to increase health and survival of their resident passerine populations.