Synchronised provisioning at the nest: parental coordination over care in a socially monogamous species

Erica P. van Rooij, Simon C. Griffith*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    35 Citations (Scopus)
    21 Downloads (Pure)


    Bi-parental care is very common in birds, occurring in over 90% of species, and is expected to evolve whenever the benefits of enhanced offspring survival exceed the costs to both parents of providing care. In altricial species, where the nestlings are entirely dependent on the parents for providing food until fledging, reproductive success is related to the capacity of the parents to provision the offspring at the nest. The degree to which parents synchronise their visits to the nest is rarely considered by studies of bi-parental care, and yet may be an important component of parental care, affecting the outcome of the reproductive attempt, and the dynamics of sexual conflict between the parents. Here we studied this aspect of parental care in the long-tailed finch (Poephila acuticauda), a socially monogamous estrildid finch. We monitored parental nest visit rates and the degree of parental visit synchrony, and assessed their effects on reproductive success (e.g., brood size, number of offspring fledged and nestling growth). The frequency of nest visits in a day was low in this species (<1 visit/h), but there was a high level of synchrony by the two partners with 73% of visits made together. There was a correlation between the proportion of visits that were made by the pair together and the size of the brood at hatching, although it was not related to the number of fledglings a pair produced, or the quality of those offspring. We suggest that nest visit synchrony may primarily be driven by the benefit of parents being together whilst foraging away from the nest, or may reduce nest predation by reducing the level of activity around the nest throughout the day.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number232
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2013

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • biparental care
    • nestling provisioning
    • long-tailed finch
    • poephila acuticauda
    • cooperative behaviour


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