Wesołowski T., Rowiński P., Maziarz M. 2009. Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix: a nomadic insectivore in search of safe breeding grounds? Bird Study 56: 26–33.
Capsule Wood Warbler population crashes coincided with local rodent outbreaks; arriving birds did not settle when rodent densities were high, apparently perceiving such conditions as too dangerous.
Aims To look for causes of Wood Warbler nomadic behaviour, and to check whether local fluctuations were due to variation in weather, food availability or perceived predation risk.
Methods Using long-term data from Białowieża National Park (eastern Poland) we checked whether variation in Wood Warbler numbers and nesting success were related to temperatures during spring arrival, availability of folivorous caterpillars or to rodent numbers.
Results Neither Wood Warbler numbers, nor rates of their change were correlated with temperatures. Numbers of birds were positively correlated with the numbers of caterpillars, but nesting success during caterpillar outbreaks was not especially high. High rodent numbers coincided with low Wood Warbler numbers and strong numerical declines of Wood Warblers. The expectation of higher nest depredation during the outbreaks was only partially confirmed.
Conclusion The results are consistent only with the safety hypothesis: the arriving Wood Warblers
refused to settle in rodent outbreak areas. Thus, Wood Warbler nomadic behaviour could result from their attempts to find safe breeding places.