UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Comparative habitats of, and competition between, the long-billed marsh wren and the red-winged blackbird at Pitt Meadows, British Columbia Runyan, Craig Steven


The objectives of the study were to determine the year-round distribution and habitat selection of four marsh passerine species, as described by vegetation type and its physical characteristics, and to investigate interspecific competition as a factor in the habitat selection of the Long-billed Marsh Wren and the Red-winged Blackbird. Fulfillment of these objectives should help the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch to assess the effects of their management plans on marsh passerines. I determined the abundance of four passerine species in different vegetation types via marsh census transects over the period of one year. Nesting habitat and breeding information on marsh wrens and redwings was obtained via nest study plots. The results were: Areas traversed from the central and deepest marsh outward towards higher ground are inhabited by redwings, marsh wrens. Common Yellowthroats, and Song Sparrows, respectively. Habitats of wrens and redwings are spatially and temporally segregated. Wrens use the "Dense Spiraea" (Hardhack shrub) habitat extensively, while redwings use it hardly at all in the marsh. Similarly, redwings are abundant in Scirpus cyperinus (Hairy-seeded Bulrush), whereas wrens seldom use this habitat. Both wrens and redwings use other vegetation types, but redwings use them in the late spring, whereas wrens use them in the summer. Both wrens and redwings have lower reproductive success when nesting in close proximity than when nesting apart. This supports the hypothesis that interspecific competition exists and indicates that selection may favour habitat segregation. I also found mutual suppression of reproductive success when the effects of different vegetation types were removed. The results were not statistically significant however, possibly due to small sample sizes. Of the observed differences between the physical nest site parameters of wrens and redwings, vegetation height and presence and/or depth of water require further investigation as factors in the habitat selection of the two species. Bren-wren competition does not appear to affect wren nesting success in the present study marsh. Management recommendations are given based on the objective of maintaining and possibly enhancing bird species diversity in the study marsh.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.