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Energetics of growth in House martins (Delichon urbica)

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Abstract

Energy requirements for growth and maintenance of nestling House martins was studied in relation to brood size and age. Parallel studies of feeding rates and faecal output were made. The effect of mutual insulation between members of the brood on metabolism was of significance for reducing maintenance energy requirements. Of great value for predicting the peak energy demand of the brood was the number of young and their individual requirements for growth and maintenance at different ages. Power equations are given for predicting brood assimilation, faecal output and feeding frequency in relation to brood size. The impact of food scarcity on growth patterns was assessed. The large lipid stores of nestlings served as an energy reserve during adverse conditions both before and after fledging. Asynchronous hatching in large broods is interpreted as a mechanism which serves to minimize the peak in energy demand which occurs about 12 days after the brood hatches.

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