Johnson, L. S. & Searcy, W. A. 1993: Nest site quality, female mate choice, and polygyny in the house wren Troglodytes aedon. Ethology 95, 265–277.
Nest Site Quality, Female Mate Choice, and Polygyny in the House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Version of Record online: 26 APR 2010
1993 Blackwell Verlag GmbH
Volume 95, Issue 4, pages 265–277, January-December 1993
How to Cite
Johnson, L. S. and Searcy, W. A. (1993), Nest Site Quality, Female Mate Choice, and Polygyny in the House Wren Troglodytes aedon. Ethology, 95: 265–277. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.1993.tb00476.x
- Issue online: 26 APR 2010
- Version of Record online: 26 APR 2010
- Received: February 1, 1993; Accepted: June 23, 1993
Many models proposed to explain the occurrence of polygyny in birds implicitly assume that females actively choose males offering the highest quality breeding situations. However, strong evidence of active mate choice by females in polygynous bird species is scarce. This study asked whether females in a polygynous population of house wrens Troglodytes aedon, a small, cavity-nesting songbird, base their choice of a mate at least partly on characteristics of the nest site that he controls. Already-mated males were randomly assigned one of two types of nest boxes to which they could attempt to attract secondary mates. Some males were given standard-type boxes with small entrance holes in the front sides of boxes, while other males were given boxes with larger entrance holes located in the boxes' roofs. A preliminary experiment revealed that female house wrens overwhelmingly prefer front-entrance to roof-entrance boxes when both types of boxes are available on the same territory. Females chose mated males with front-entrance boxes over mated males with roof-entrance boxes significantly more often than expected by chance. This preference demonstrates that female house wrens do discriminate among potential mates and base their choice of a mate at least partly on characteristics of the nest site he has to offer. This observation is compatible with the hypothesis that female house wrens choose mated males because they gain access to high-quality nest sites.