Maternal effects can have lasting fitness consequences for offspring, but these effects are often difficult to disentangle from associated responses in offspring traits. We studied persistent maternal effects on offspring survival in North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) by manipulating maternal nutrition without altering the post-emergent nutritional environment experienced by offspring. This was accomplished by providing supplemental food to reproductive females over winter and during reproduction, but removing the supplemental food from the system prior to juvenile emergence. We then monitored juvenile dispersal, settlement and survival from birth to 1 year of age. Juveniles from supplemented mothers experienced persistent and magnifying survival advantages over juveniles from control mothers long after supplemental food was removed. These maternal effects on survival persisted, despite no observable effect on traits normally associated with high offspring quality, such as body size, dispersal distance or territory quality. However, supplemented mothers did provide their juveniles an early start by breeding an average of 18 days earlier than control mothers, which may explain the persistent survival advantages their juveniles experienced.