Nest visit synchrony is high and correlates with reproductive success in the wild Zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata


M. M. Mariette, Dept of Biological Sciences, Macquarie Univ., Sydney 2109, Australia. E-mail:


Nest visit synchrony, whereby adults coordinate their visits to the nest, has been documented in several species of cooperative breeders. Visit synchrony may reduce nest predation rate or sibling competition, or instead follow from synchronisation of other behaviours, such as foraging. However, nest visit synchrony has rarely been considered in species with bi-parental care, even though it could conceivably bring similar fitness benefits to that seen in cooperative breeders. In addition, in species with bi-parental care, we might expect nest visit synchrony to reflect the quality of the pair or the overall coordination of breeding activity between partners. Here, we tested whether nest visit synchrony occurs in a classic avian model for the study of bi-parental care, the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata. We found that in the wild, both zebra finch parents visited the nest very infrequently during nestling provisioning, with only one visit per hour, and that nest visits were highly synchronised with parents visiting the nest together on 78% of the visits. In addition, we found that nest visit synchrony was correlated with hatching rate, brood size at hatching and the number of offspring in the nest a few days prior to fledging. Our results suggest that, while more work is required to understand the benefits of nest visit synchrony in this species, considering behavioural synchrony and cooperation between mated partners may offer new insight into the study of parental investment, including in species with bi-parental care.