Inexperienced females incubating eggs are fed more often by their partners, study finds
Date: July 6, 2016
Expecting songbird dads do not always work themselves into frenzy to provide food to their partners sitting on the nest. They take breaks on warmer days, when food is more readily available or if their partner is older and more experienced in successfully hatching eggs. This is according to a study of blue tit birds led by Seyed Mehdi Amininasab of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands and Behbahan Khatam Alanbia University of Technology in Iran. The findings are published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
Amininasab's team observed the nesting behavior of a population of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) living in a forest of deciduous and conifer trees near Groningen in the Netherlands during the 2014 breeding season. More than 200 nest boxes designed with these songbirds in mind are set out in the area, and have been monitored since 2001. For the purposes of the present study, data loggers were placed in 92 of the nests to record temperature shifts during the incubation process. The researchers also captured the feeding behavior of males visiting 63 of these nests by using infra-red cameras. The results provide new insights into the effort that birds make to successfully incubate and hatch their eggs.