We used long-term population data for the ruddy-capped nightingale thrush (Catharus frantzii Cabanis), to examine the influence of forest conditions on annual productivity, survival and growth rate (λ) in a montane forest reserve of Chiapas, southern Mexico, from 1995 to 2003. Productivity was higher in primary, mature forest than in secondary, young forest. More adults were captured in primary forest (n = 132) than in secondary forest (n = 64). Adult survival (φ = 0.79) and encounter rate (ρ = 0.36) did not vary across habitats. Males and females had similar survival between primary and secondary forests (φ = 0.80 vs. 0.83, and 0.77 vs. 0.79, respectively). Juvenile survival (φ = 0.67) was only 12% lower than for adults. Overall, the population of C. frantzii appeared to be declining at 3% y−1 (λ = 0.97, SE = 0.09, 95% CI = 0.88–1.03). Productivity and survival correlated positively with λ across years within habitats, although survival was the primary, significant demographic parameter determining λ. Although habitat alteration may have reduced the carrying capacity and productivity in secondary forest, there was no apparent negative effect on population persistence in this habitat. Thus, secondary forests represent habitats that may facilitate the long-term persistence of C. frantzii populations.