Use of nest-boxes by the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata): Implications for reproductive success and research

Simon C. Griffith, Sarah R. Pryke, Mylene Mariette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Nest-boxes have been used widely and for many decades in Europe and North America to increase avian reproductive success in species management and conservation programs and to increase the amenability and efficiency with which a species can be studied. Here we describe the establishment of a breeding population of Zebra Finches using nest-boxes in semi-arid, far-western New South Wales, over three breeding seasons (2005-07). The nest-boxes were used readily by Zebra Finches, with a total of 572 breeding attempts recorded in this study. After the introduction of nest-boxes, nearly all breeding attempts were made in these artificial cavities. Zebra Finches breeding in natural nests are prone to high levels of nest predation (>60% in previous studies), but such predation was almost completely eliminated with nest-boxes, with <2% of nests being depredated. Not surprisingly, the reproductive success of pairs breeding in nest-boxes (58% of nests successfully fledged at least one young) was significantly higher than in the natural nests monitored at the same sites in a previous year, and by comparison with previous studies of the same species in other localities across Australia. Our study of the Zebra Finch, a laboratory model used throughout the world, shows the effectiveness of artificial nest-boxes at decreasing levels of predation in the wild and increasing the capacity for research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-319
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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