John Bobo

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Jamie Cornelius, Ph.D., Co-Chair

Committee Member

Peter Bednekoff, Ph.D., Co-Chair

Committee Member

Cara Shillington, Ph.D.


The timing of migration is crucial for the fitness of organisms because mistimed migration can cause exposure to difficult conditions. Photoperiod drives migratory timing in many species, but little work has focused on how social cues might fine-tune migratory timing. The goal of this study is to determine if birds use social cues from conspecifics to fine-tune the initiation of migratory behavior and physiology. Red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) are gregarious, nomadic migrants that make seasonal movements to find patchily-distributed conifer seeds and are responsive to social cues in the context of food. I test the hypothesis that social cues can influence migratory timing in red crossbills by providing birds with social partners in different migratory states and measuring the development of migratory traits. We discuss the changes observed in body condition and activity levels to test the hypothesis that crossbills are using social cues from conspecifics to fine-tune migratory timing.