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Birds aim to optimize resources for feeding young and self-maintenance by timing reproduction to coincide with peak food availability. When reproduction is mistimed, birds could incur costs that affect their survival. We studied whether nesting phenology correlated with the apparent survival of American kestrels (Falco sparverius) from two distinct populations and examined trends in clutch-initiation dates. We estimated apparent survival using multi-state mark-recapture models with nesting timing, nesting success, sex, age, and weather covariates. Nesting timing predicted the apparent survival of successful adults; however, the effect differed between populations. Early nesting kestrels had higher apparent survival than later nesters in the western population, where kestrels have a relatively long nesting season. At the eastern site, where kestrels have a relatively short nesting season, the pattern was reversed—later nesters had higher apparent survival than earlier nesters. Nesting timing did not affect the apparent survival of adults with failed nests suggesting that the energetic cost of producing fledglings contributed to the timing effect. Finally, clutch-initiation dates advanced in the western population and remained static in the eastern population. Given that both populations have seasonal declines in productivity, population-specific survival patterns provide insight into seasonal trade-offs. Specifically, nesting timing effects on survival paralleled productivity declines in the western population and inverse patterns of survival and reproduction in the eastern population suggest a condition-dependent trade-off. Concomitant seasonal declines in reproduction and survival may facilitate population-level responses to earlier springs, whereas seasonal trade-offs may constrain phenology shifts and increase vulnerability to mismatch.

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This version of the article has been accepted for publication and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:

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