The structure and function of nests of Long-Tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus

Authors

  • A. McGOWAN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Evolution and Behaviour Group, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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    • *

      Present address: School of Biological Sciences, University of Exeter, Hatherley Laboratories, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4PS, UK.

  • S. P. SHARP,

    1. Evolution and Behaviour Group, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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  • B. J. HATCHWELL

    1. Evolution and Behaviour Group, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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†Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: amcgowan@seaturtle.org

Summary

  • 1The aim of this study was to investigate the structure and thermoregulatory function of nests of the Long-Tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus.
  • 2The feather lining of Long-Tailed Tit nests represents a major portion (41%) of the total nest mass.
  • 3The mass of feathers varied among nests and declined through the breeding season, but there was no seasonal loss of nest insulation quality because of increasing ambient temperatures.
  • 4In an experiment to investigate the seasonal decline in the feather mass of nests, feathers were added to nests at an early stage of the lining phase of nest construction. Nest structure and insulating properties were then examined following nest completion.
  • 5The total mass of feathers in treatment and control nests did not differ significantly and there was no significant difference in their nest insulation quality.
  • 6Our results demonstrate that Long-Tailed Tits adjust their nest-building behaviour according to the nest's thermal environment. Moreover, nest structure appears to be adjusted to prevailing environmental conditions rather than being a function of feather availability or time constraints.

Ancillary