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 journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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
Volume81
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

Keywords

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

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