Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Dr. Elise Ferree

Reader 2

Dr. Sarah Budischak

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© 2023 Emily B Little


White-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) are small, migratory, passerine birds. One population of the subspecies Z. l. gambelii winters at the Bernard Field Station in Claremont California. While winter seasons are relatively un-studied compared to the breeding season of migratory birds, growing evidence suggests that the success of an individual during the winter season can have significant impacts on species success. Stable flock formation and wintering site fidelity are behaviors that some migratory birds exhibit during wintering seasons, thought to contribute to a population’s success over the winter through increasing an individual’s familiarity with surrounding resources and other birds. These behaviors have been observed in the closely-related golden-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla), and previous years of study on this project indicate that white-crowned sparrows (WCSPs) do as well. In this study I utilized motion-activated cameras to record WCSP activity at 24 sites in the Bernard Field Station over the winter season (October-February). In continuation of the past three years of study, wintering site fixation was determined using the leg-banding data recorded in the captured images, which was utilized to determine the rate of return. Through this image data I determined that strong evidence supports the hypothesis of WCSPs demonstrating wintering site fidelity. Stable flock formation will be analyzed in further study utilizing network analysis to assess flock structure and modularity.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.