Do male hoots betray parasite loads in Tawny Owls?
Article first published online: 30 OCT 2003
Journal of Avian Biology
Volume 31, Issue 4, pages 457–462, December 2000
How to Cite
Redpath, S. M., Appleby, B. M. and Petty, S. J. (2000), Do male hoots betray parasite loads in Tawny Owls?. Journal of Avian Biology, 31: 457–462. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-048X.2000.310404.x
- Issue published online: 30 OCT 2003
- Article first published online: 30 OCT 2003
- Received 16 June 1998 Revised 4 October 1999 Accepted 11 November 1999
- Cited By
Bird song structure may honestly reveal the health and vigour of individual males to potential mates and competitors. If this is the case then song may reflect the level of parasitic infections in males. We initially examined the relationship between blood parasite infections and the time taken to respond by 22 male Tawny Owls to a broadcast hoot. We then examined the call structure (total length and frequency) in relation to parasite infection, an index of owl condition and an index of food abundance. Owls with higher parasite loads responded more slowly to an intruder, although this relationship was not significant once condition and vole abundance were controlled for. We found no relationship between call length and any of the measured variables. However, the high frequency and the range of frequencies used in calls decreased with increasing parasite load. Thus, there was the potential for individuals to assess male parasite load from the speed of response and the structure of the call. Experimental tests of these relationships are now required.