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Keywords:

  • fitness;
  • incubation;
  • nestling condition;
  • plumage maturation;
  • status signalling hypothesis

The status signalling hypothesis states that conspicuous male plumage varies among males and serves as an honest signal of male quality and competitive ability. We expected immature-plumaged males of the Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola to feed their incubating mates and nestlings and remove faecal sacs at lower rates than those of mature-plumaged males. We also predicted that females paired with immature-plumaged males would compensate for their mates’ lower contribution. We found no differences in either feeding rates or sanitation rates between immature- and mature-plumaged males. Similarly, females mated to immature- and mature-plumaged males fed nestlings at equivalent rates. Apparently, male plumage colour and age are not reliable signals of the ability of a male Saffron Finch to provide for his mate and offspring.