Behaviour and parental care of Skylark Alauda arvensis chicks

Authors

  • JOHN GRYNDERUP POULSEN

    1. The Game Conservancy Trust, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1EF, UK
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    • *University of Maine, Department of Wildlife Ecology, 5755 Nutting Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA.


Abstract

I studied parental care and fledgling dispersion of Skylarks Alauda arvensis during the last 4 days of the nestling period and the first 4 days after the nestlings left the nest but before they were able to fly. The study compared parental care in three different crop types: spring barley, grass and set-aside. Both parents made more provisioning trips and delivered more food to fledglings than to nestlings. Fledglings received fewer items per trip than did nestlings. Feeding distances did not differ between nestling and post-Hedging periods for any crop type. This suggests that fledging was associated with a change in parental foraging strategies. Parental care differed between broods from different crop types. During the last 4 days of the nestling period, the feeding frequencies were 3.4 trips per young per hour in spring barley fields, 5.8 in grass and 7.3 in set-aside. The mean distances to the feeding area were 233 m in spring barley fields, 155 m in grass and 120 m in set-aside. The load size of provisioning trips was significantly higher in set-aside than in spring barley and grass. During the first 4 days after fledging, the feeding frequencies were 2.2 successful trips per young per hour in spring barley fields, 4.1 in grass and 5.1 in set-aside. The feeding distances were 210 m in spring barley fields, 162 m in grass and 120 m in set-aside. Load size of provisioning trips was significantly higher in set-aside than in spring barley and grass. The mean dispersion of fledglings was significantly greater in fields of spring barley compared with grass fields and set-aside.

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