The energetic costs of nest building in birds

Mark C. Mainwaring, Ian R. Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Parental investment in reproduction is generally limited by the availability of food and so avian life-history research has generally 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 there is now observational, comparative and experimental evidence that avian nest building is an energetically and temporally expensive activity. This review emphasises that nest construction is energetically expensive and we suggest that such costs should be incorporated into avian life-history research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-17
Number of pages6
JournalAvian Biology Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Birds
  • Differential allocation
  • Extended phenotypic signal
  • Life-history evolution
  • Nest construction
  • Reproductive costs


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