The influence of brood size upon metabolic rate and body temperature in nestling Blue tits Parus caeruleus and House sparrows Passer domesticus


*Department of Zoology, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Metabolic rate and body temperature in nestling Blue tits and House sparrows were measured in broods of different size and age. Surface-volume ratio effects were found in both poikilothermic and homoiothermic Blue tits at ambients of 15°C but not at 20°C. The possibility of incipient hyperthermia amongst young nestlings maintaining sub-adult body temperatures is discussed. For the House sparrows heat retention by the nest was of greater importance than the surface-volume effect. Differences in nest structure between the two species are described and related to the thermal requirements of nestlings in large as against small broods.