As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 22 June 2018

The loss of a parent is the most common cause of brood failure in blue tits



Date:  June 12, 2018
Source:  British Ecological Society

Summary:
Complete brood failure in blue tits is almost always associated with the sudden and permanent disappearance of one of the parents. Scientists show in their study that the remaining parent substantially increased its effort to raise at least some of the chicks, which turned out to be successful in two thirds of the nests.

Single parent males generally do worse, probably because they are not able to keep their chicks warm. Their findings are published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Apart from being a popular garden feeder visitor, blue tits have been the focus of much research on the causes and consequences of variation in reproductive success. Blue tits typically lay between 8-15 eggs, of which a varying number of young will survive to leave the nest. In some nests, however, all the offspring die before they are old enough to leave the nest.

Finding out what causes these cases of complete brood mortality has proven challenging. Does one parent leave all the care to its mate? Can a single parent not cope with the demands? Do both parents decide to desert their brood? To find out, we need to know exactly when parents stop bringing food and when the offspring perish.

Therefore, Peter Santema and Bart Kempenaers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen equipped all adult blue tits in their study site with a tiny, passive integrated transponder.



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