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Mountain chickadees return to their post-natal dispersal settlements following long-term captivity

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There is little work investigating the relationship between environmental changes and associated hippocampal effects on animal homing. We took advantage of previous studies in which wild, non-migratory mountain chickadees spent six months in captivity prior to being released. Over the following three years, 45.8% of the birds were resighted, and in all cases birds were identified less than 300 m from their initial capture locations at their respective elevation, despite previous studies documenting ca 30% captivity-related reduction of the hippocampus. Reproductive success of birds that spent six months in captivity did not differ from control birds that did not experience captivity. Our findings suggest that chickadees are highly site faithful and can return to their original capture location after spending time in captivity. Our results also have important implications for animal welfare practices as birds held in captivity bred successfully and may not need to be sacrificed following captivity.


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