The effect of habitat quality on foraging patterns, provisioning rate and nestling growth in Corsican Blue Tits Parus caeruleus

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) Science Article 15

abstract

Many bird species face seasonal and spatial variation in the availability of the specific food required to rear chicks. Caterpillar availability is often identified as the most important factor determining chick quality and breeding success in forest birds, such as tits Parus spp. It is assumed that parents play an important role in mediating the effect of environment on chick development. A reduction in prey availability should therefore result in increased foraging effort to maintain the amount of food required for optimal chick development. To investigate the capacity of adults to compensate for a reduction in food supply, we compared the foraging behaviour of Blue Tits Parus caeruleus breeding in rich and poor habitats in Corsica. We monitored the foraging effort of adults using radiotelemetry. We also identified and quantified prey items provided to nestlings by using a video camera mounted on the nest. We found that the mean travelling distance of adults was twice as great in the poor habitat as it was in the rich.

ISABELLE TREMBLAY, DONALD THOMAS, et al., Ibis 147 (1), 17-24.

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