The rôle of fat and protein during breeding in the White-bellied swiftlet (Collocalia esculents)

Authors

  • C. J. Hails,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur–11, Malaysia
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    • *Botanic Gardens, Cluny Road, Singapore 1025, Republic of Singapore.

  • A. K. Turner

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur–11, Malaysia
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    • **Department of Zoology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland.


Abstract

The breeding biology of the White-bellied swiftlet was studied in Malaysia. Birds were captured every month, and more intensively during the breeding season. To investigate the role of fat and protein reserves in the annual cycle, carcasses were fat extracted after separating the pectoral muscles. The stage of the laying cycle was investigated by histological examination of the ovaries.

Fat and protein reserves were correlated with the body size of the birds. In non-laying females and males, both reserves were correlated with date and feeding conditions determined by the weather. In egg-laying birds, protein reserves were again correlated with feeding conditions, but fat reserves were negatively correlated with the day of the laying cycle. Assessment of the daily foraging abilities of the birds showed that, for egg-layers, proteins were likely to be in greatest supply and fats in least supply. It is suggested that a fat reserve serves as an insurance against poor feeding conditions for laying birds.

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