Experimental evidence for state-dependent nest weight in the blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus

Mark C. Mainwaring*, Ian R. Hartley

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Parental investment in reproduction is generally limited by food availability, and so avian life-history research has traditionally focused on the brood rearing phase, when food requirements are greatest. Only relatively recently has the focus extended to the incubation phase, and even more recently to the nest-building phase, where observational and comparative evidence suggest that avian nest building is an energetically expensive and time-consuming activity. We aimed to experimentally test the limitations on this cost in a hole-breeding passerine, the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), by providing supplementary food to experimental pairs during the nest-building period. In comparison with control females, that did not receive supplementary food, experimental females constructed heavier nests, with greater amounts of moss base but similar amounts of cup lining, despite there being no differences in the time taken to build the nest. This study provides empirical support for the hypothesis that avian nest building is a costly behaviour, limited by food availability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)144-146
    Number of pages3
    JournalBehavioural Processes
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - May 2009


    • Blue tit
    • Cyanistes caeruleus
    • Nest construction
    • Nest weight
    • Reproductive costs
    • Supplementary food


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