Selasphorus rufus - (Gmelin, 1788)
Rufous Hummingbird
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Selasphorus rufus (Gmelin, 1788) (TSN 178040)
French Common Names: colibri roux
Spanish Common Names: Zumbador Rufo
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102866
Element Code: ABNUC51020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 10769

© Dick Cannings

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Apodiformes Trochilidae Selasphorus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Selasphorus rufus
Taxonomic Comments: Constitutes a superspecies with S. sasin (AOU 1983).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 02Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in western North America; large population size; many subpopulations; tolerates and even benefits from common types of habitat alteration; some evidence suggests a slow overall decline, but the species remains widespread and common throughout its historical breeding range; nonbreeding range may be expanding.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B (13Feb2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNRN), Alaska (S4B), Arizona (S5M), Arkansas (SU), California (S1S2), Colorado (SNA), Idaho (S5B), Kansas (SNA), Louisiana (S2N), Mississippi (SNA), Montana (S4B), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (SNRN), Nevada (S3M), New Mexico (S5N), North Carolina (SNA), Oklahoma (S1N), Oregon (S5B), South Dakota (SU), Texas (S3N), Utah (SNA), Washington (S4B), Wyoming (S2B)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S4B), Yukon Territory (SU)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range extends from southern Alaska, southern Yukon, British Columbia, and southwestern Alberta southward through Washington, Oregon, and western Montana to northwestern California and Idaho (Calder 1993, AOU 1998).

Winter range extends from coastal southern California (rarely), Sinaloa, Chihuahua, southern Texas, and Gulf Coast (east to western Florida) south to southern Baja California and southern mainland Mexico (e.g., Oaxaca, Veracruz) (Calder 1993, AOU 1998). Individuals often occur ouside usual species range.

Coded range extent refers to breeding range.

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of distinct occurrences or subpopulations has not been determined using standardized criteria, but this species is represented by a very large number of observation/collection sites (e.g., see GBIF database, eBird) and locations (as defined by IUCN).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 1,000,000. Rich et al. (2004) estimated population size at 6,500,000. PIF (2013) estimated population size at 11,000,000.

Viability/Integrity Comments: Many occurrences have at least good estimated viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats have been identified. Habitat alterations by humans may improve conditions for this species. For example, timber harvest may result in increased abundance of nectar-producing shrubs and forbs that attract rufous hummingbirds. However, subsequent development of dense stands of young conifers may eventually shade and eliminate hummingbird food resources, so the benefit to hummingbirds may be temporary. Hutto and Young (1999) suggested that harvest units and other human-altered environments with vegetation structures that do not occur in natural seral habitats may serve as "ecological traps" that attract birds with elevated food resources but then fail to provide other necessary resources. However, whether reproductive success in harvest units differs from natural forest stands has not been studied.

Effects of livestock grazing are mostly unstudied. A negative response to grazing in aspen riparian habitat in California and Nevada was reported by Page et al. (1978, cited in Saab et al. 1995). Grazing that widely reduces the abundance of nectar-producing shrubs and forbs presumably would be detrimental to local hummingbird populations.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data suggest a slow decline (averaged about 2 percent annually for 2003-2013). However, the degree to which BBS data accurately reflect overall population changes for this species is unknown (Healy and Calder 2006). Other evidence (e.g., eBird data) indicates that the trend over the past 10 years or three generations probably has been relatively stable or at least has not changed at a fast rate.

Long-term Trend: Unknown
Long-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for 1968-2013 indicate a significant survey-wide decline averaging 2.1% per year; this amounts to a 61% decline over this time period. However, the BBS is not particularly well suited to monitoring this species; number of individuals per route tends to be quite low (average of 2 or fewer individuals per 50 3-minute stops). BBS abundance (average number of individuals per route) for 1968-2013 declined by about 1 individual (roughly from 2 birds per 150 minutes to 1 bird per 150 minutes). In any event, the species remains common throughout its historical range.

Nonbreeding range may be expanding (Healy and Calder 2006).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends from southern Alaska, southern Yukon, British Columbia, and southwestern Alberta southward through Washington, Oregon, and western Montana to northwestern California and Idaho (Calder 1993, AOU 1998).

Winter range extends from coastal southern California (rarely), Sinaloa, Chihuahua, southern Texas, and Gulf Coast (east to western Florida) south to southern Baja California and southern mainland Mexico (e.g., Oaxaca, Veracruz) (Calder 1993, AOU 1998). Individuals often occur ouside usual species range.

Coded range extent refers to breeding range.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, ID, KS, LA, MS, MT, NC, NE, NM, NN, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
Canada AB, BC, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Ada (16001), Blaine (16013), Cassia (16031), Idaho (16049), Latah (16057), Lemhi (16059), Shoshone (16079), Valley (16085)
WY Carbon (56007)*, Fremont (56013)*, Park (56029), Sublette (56035)*, Teton (56039)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
10 Clarks Fork Yellowstone (10070006)+*, Little Wind (10080002)+*, Popo Agie (10080003)+*, Shoshone (10080014)+, Upper North Platte (10180002)+*, Sweetwater (10180006)+*
14 Upper Green (14040101)+*
16 Curlew Valley (16020309)+
17 Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, Gros Ventre (17040102)+*, Greys-Hobock (17040103)+*, Little Wood (17040221)+, Boise-Mores (17050112)+, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Lemhi (17060204)+, Lochsa (17060303)+, Clearwater (17060306)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Very small bird; 7-9 cm in length with a wingspan of 11 cm, weight 2-5 g. Male rusty red (orange) on back and body with black on tips of tail, orange-scarlet throat. Female bronze-green on back and body with orange tail, throat white or streaked with bronze-green.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size is two. Young are capable of first flight about 20 days after hatching (Terres 1980). Bent (1940) reported of instance of as many as 20 nests only a few yards apart in second-growth. Individuals may re-use a nest in subsequent years (Bent 1940, Calder 1993).
Ecology Comments: This hummingbird actively defends feeding and nesting territory both inter- and intraspecifically (Cody 1968; Baltosser 1989; Calder 1993). Banding returns show the species has strong fidelity to breeding sites, wintering sites, and migration routes (Calder and Jones 1989; Calder 1993); it has been shown to have strong spatial memory for nectar sites (Hurly 1996). Rufous hummingbirds establish and defend territories around nectar sources on breeding sites, migration stopovers, and wintering sites. Migrating birds can gain an average mass of 0.23 g per day, and conserve energy by going into torpor at night (Hixon and Carpenter 1988). Feeding territory size depends on flower density and fluctuates with the rate of weight gain possible from nectar availability and the cost of territorial defense (Kodric-Brown and Brown 1978; Gass 1979; Carpenter et al. 1983). Feeding territory sizes range from 32 to 3,300 square meters (Gass 1979; Kodric-Brown and Brown 1978). Calder (1993) notes that banded birds have been recaptured at feeders 2 kilometers apart in summer.

Breeding densities reported range from 0.17 to 2.6 nests per hectare (Horvath 1964 cited in Calder 1993). In Oregon Coast Range Douglas-fir forests, densities reported at 0.16 birds per hectare in young stands, 0.13 birds per hectare mature stands, and 0.33 birds per hectare in old-growth stands (Carey et al. 1991). Average relative abundances reported on BBS routes range from 0.83 to 4.94 birds per 25-mile survey route (Sauer et al. 1997). In winter, 95 individuals captured in 12 nets over two days in a pine-oak post-fire succession habitat in Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve, Jalisco, Mexico (Calder 1993).

Baltosser (1983, cited in Miller and Gass 1985) reported high egg and nestling predation (25 percent to 58 percent) in four species of hummingbirds; however, nest predation is apparently unstudied in rufous hummingbirds. Predation on adult hummingbirds is not likely to play a large role in adult mortality (Miller and Gass 1985; Calder 1993).

Some observers suggest that artificial feeders may increase populations above natural levels by providing food beyond flowering seasons (see Calder 1993) or encouraging birds to delay migration past availability of natural foods. Feeders may also subject birds to predation, disease, or collision with windows. However none of these factors are fully studied or quantified (Calder 1993).

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Route from Mexico to Alaska is longest migration of any North American hummingbird (True 1993). Stopover habitats are critical for accumulating resources required for migration.

Migration patterns coincide with weather patterns and flowering times (Calder 1993). Rufous hummingbirds migrate northward along the Pacific Coast and through lowlands west of the Rockies in winter and early spring (Calder 1993), arriving in California in late February-early March, Oregon by March 1, Alaska by mid-April. Southward migration is chiefly through Cascade/Sierra Nevada mountains and Rocky Mountains. Southward migrants were observed in Colorado over a 6-week period in July and early August (Calder 1993). Arrival in southern Arizona/New Mexico occurs by late July/August and in central Mexico by August/September (Baltosser 1989, Calder 1993). Males migrate before females and juveniles (Phillips et al. 1964).

Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Alpine, Forest - Conifer, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Breeding habitat includes coniferous forest, second growth, thickets, and brushy hillsides, with foraging extending into adjacent scrubby areas and meadows with abundant nectar flowers (AOU 1998); habitat is chiefly secondary succession communities and forest openings (Calder 1993, Healy and Calder 2006). On national forest lands in northern Idaho and western Montana, this species was most commonly detected on clearcut and seed-tree harvest units and in post-fire habitats; also riparian shrub, cedar-hemlock, and spruce-fir habitats (Hutto 1995). It had a higher probability of detection in cut rather than uncut forests (Hutto and Young 1999).

Rufous hummingbirds also are associated with old-growth coniferous forest stands (e.g., Carey et al. 1991, Gilbert and Allwine 1991, Manuwal 1991, Hejl and Paige 1993), where suitable food resources develop in tree-fall gaps and other natural openings and edges (Carey et al. 1991, Gilbert and Allwine 1991, Manuwal 1991, Hejl and Paige 1993).  In western Oregon, rufous hummingbirds nested in 16-120 year-old second-growth and older than 120 year-old mature forest (Meslow and Wight 1975). In northern Idaho cedar-hemlock, they were significantly more abundant in selectively harvested and old-growth stands than in old-growth stands recently fragmented by clearcuts (Hejl and Paige 1993). In Oregon Cascades Douglas-fir forests, rufous hummingbirds were positively associated with stand age where old-growth stands included numerous small openings, and they were found in stands with large to very large western hemlocks (Gilbert and Allwine 1991). In two Washington Cascades studies, occurrence in old-growth (200-700 years old) was double or nearly double that in young (40-80 years) or mature (80-190 years) forest stands (Carey et al. 1991; Manuwal 1991). Old-growth stands showed greater spatial diversity and midstory cover, and lower canopy cover (Carey et al. 1991). Abundance was higher in mesic and dry old-growth Douglas-fir stands than in wet stands (Manuwal 1991).

Nests are placed in trees, shrubs, or vines, about 1-15 meters (usually less than 5 meters) above ground (e.g., in blackberry bush, huckleberry bush, overhanging vine, alder, drooping branch of conifer, among roots of fallen tree, crown of deciduous tree; Johnsgard 1983). Baltosser (1989) observed that areas with both greater quantities and more predictable nectar supplies supported more hummingbird nests; this pattern may also apply to rufous hummingbird.

Habitat in migration and winter includes open situations where flowers are present (AOU 1998). During southward migration, this species uses mountain meadows and disturbed habitats with Castilleja spp, Aquilegia formosa, Epilobium angustifolium, Delphinium spp. Penstemon barbatus, Monarda menthaefolia, Linaria vulgaris, and Cleome serrulata (Calder 1993). In Mexico, it occurs in pine woods with abundant flowers and flowering shrubs; in open country with scattered trees and shrubs; suburban gardens, parks, vacant lots (Edwards 1972). Nonbreeding habitat also includes oak forests interspersed with pine and juniper between 2,300-3,000 meters; higher oak-fir forests; shrubby secondary succession habitats; arid thorn forest; brush at farm and roadside edges with Salvia spp.; scrublands and disturbed oak woodland (Calder 1993).

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Nectarivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Nectarivore
Food Comments: Diet includes nectar, insects, and tree sap from sapsucker wells (Healy and Calder 2006). This species obtains nectar from a wide variety of flowering plant species, (e.g., columbine, scarlet gilia, penstemon, paintbrushes, sage, lilies, larkspurs, heaths, currants, salmonberry, honeysuckles, fireweed, horsemint, toad-flax, snapdragon, bee-flower, and others (Calder 1993). Arrival on southward migration in southern Arizona and New Mexico coincides with blooming and high abundance of Agave spp. (Baltosser 1989).

Experimental manipulation with feeders in successional forest habitat showed that rufous hummingbirds preferred the greatest available sucrose concentrations, ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent, and preferred nectar sources at greater heights (2-3 meters; Blem et al. 1997).

Insects are important sources of fat, protein, and salts; these are obtained by hawking, gleaning, and in tree sap (Calder 1993).

Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Phenology Comments: This hummingbird is capable of altering energy balance by employing nocturnal torpor.
Length: 10 centimeters
Weight: 3 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management.
Although classified as a moderate conservation priority on the Partners in Flight WatchList due to Breeding Bird Survey population trend and localized winter distribution (e.g., Muehter 1998), the species remains widespread and common. Presumably it has benefited from feeders and non-native flower plantings in suburban gardens, and possibly from timber harvest practices that have increased the availability of early seral habitats, but how these changes have actually affected demographics is unquantified. 

Species Impacts: This species does not adversely affect other species. On the contrary, it is an important plant pollinator (Grant and Grant 1968, Healy and Calder 2006).
Restoration Potential: This species readily responds positively to habitat changes that increase the abundance of nectar-producing plants, so restoration potential is good, though at present no restoration is needed on a range-wide scale.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Little information is available on specific landscape relationships, such as patch size and area sensitivity. The species may be vulnerable to local extirpation from forest fragmentation (Lehmkuhl et al. 1991). In northern Idaho, this species was negatively associated with fragmented old-growth cedar-hemlock forest, and more abundant in continuous old-growth (Hejl and Paige 1993). Rufous hummingbirds will nest in coniferous forest and forage in nearby meadows and openings, using ecotones and seral habitats that supply food resources. They are positively associated with old-growth coniferous forests, where they forage in early successional habitats and forest openings, but the full spectrum or configuration of habitats important to the species' survival are not fully known. An ample supply of nectar-producing flowers is likely a limiting factor. In the fall, populations migrate south along mountain corridors using high flowering meadows which would be critical to protect from degradation (USDA Forest Service 1994). A regional to international conservation perspective is important given the species' high mobility throughout the seasons following phenology of flowering plants.
Management Requirements: Favorable management consists of actions that maintain or increase nectar or insect food sources. Hence, activities such as application of pesticides and herbicides, some grazing practices, or eradication of flowering shrubs such as Ribes or manzanita should be avoided (USDA Forest Service 1994). 
Monitoring Requirements: This species is detected in low numbers on Breeding Bird Survey routes and Christmas Bird Count area searches. Adult males are readily recognizable by plumage color, and distinctive display flights during the breeding season, but females may be confused with Allen's hummingbird where ranges overlap. Calls of rufous and Allen's hummingbirds are nearly identical, but Allen's is not present in most of rufous' breeding range (Farrand 1983, USDA Forest Service 1994).
Monitoring Programs: Rufous hummingbirds are monitored on a broad scale in the United States and Canada through the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). However, the species tends to be detected in low numbers, and the BBS methodology is not particularly well suited to monitoring rufous hummingbird populations.
Management Research Needs: Given the loss of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and the centuries-long prospect of restoring old-growth stands, further research is needed to understand this species' relationship with old-growth and breeding success in younger-aged forest stands. Also needed is better information on habitat relationships throughout the year, such as the importance of old-growth forest stands, successional habitats, or other habitats to breeding, foraging, and survival. Landscape relationships, such as area sensitivity and the importance of juxtaposition of nesting and foraging habitats, need further study. Better information is needed on threats to habitats used in migration and winter. 

Further research is needed on effects of land management activities such as timber harvest and grazing, particularly impacts on food resources, nest predation, reproductive success, and survival.

Better information is needed on direct and indirect effects of pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins.

Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Hummingbirds

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: High potential for gene flow among populations of birds makes it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for hummingbirds; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering individuals (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat (or fewer individuals for G1-G3 species). Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; a compromise between the often small home ranges of these birds, their great mobility, and the need for occurrences of reasonable size.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30May2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Management Information Edition Date: 30May2015
Management Information Edition Author: Paige, C., with revisions by M. Koenen, D. W. Mehlman, and G. Hammerson
Management Information Acknowledgments: An early version of this abstract was supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative, through challenge grant number 97-270 to The Nature Conservancy, Wings of the Americas Program. Matching funds for this grant were donated by Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30May2015
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Healy, S., and W. A. Calder. 2006. Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/053.

  • Hejl, S.J., R.L. Hutto, C.R. Preston, and D.M. Finch. 1995. Effects of silvicultural treatments in the Rocky Mountains. Pages 220-244 in T.E. Martin and D.M. Finch, editors. Ecology and management of neotropical migratory birds. Oxford University Press, New York.

  • Hejl, S.J., and L.C. Paige. 1993. A preliminary assessment of birds in continuous and fragmented forests of western redcedar/western hemlock in northern Idaho. Pages 189-197 in D.M. Baumgartner, J.E. Lotan, J.R. Tonn, editors. Interior cedar-hemlock-white-pine forests: ecology and management. Symposium proceedings. Washington State University, Pullman, WA.

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