Distraction Displays in Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) Females in Central and Northern Europe


Corresponding author: Václav Pavel, Laboratory of Ornithology, Palacký University, Svobody 26, 771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic. E-mail: pavel@prfnw.upol.cz


Distraction displays to a human were studied in the Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) females in Central (Jeseníky Mountains–Czech Republic; 50°N 17°E) and Northern European mountains (Tydal area–Central Norway; 63°N 12°E) between 1995 and 1998. Three risk-dependent variables were scored and we found that flushing and settling distances of pipit females decreased with increasing intensity of display both in the Central and the Northern Europe locations. Parental risk taking did not markedly differ between studied populations, although, in particular, larger brood size and reduced opportunity to re-nest should contribute to a higher intensity of nest defence in the Northern than in the Central European mountains. Moreover, the level of risk taken was not significantly dependent on the air temperature, age of brood and brood size in both study areas, when compared separately. These results do not support the findings of most previous studies on nest defence in birds. Possible causes of our contradictory results are discussed with respect to the reproductive value and the feedback hypotheses.