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Plasticity in nest composition in relation to nest-site characteristics in the Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)

Posted on 24. June, 2016.

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The nest is an important part of reproduction of many altricial bird species and nest construction is varied, for example in site selection, shape and construction material. In this paper, the authors studied nest composition in the Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), breeding in natural holes in primeval stands of the Białowieża Forest.

Birds construct nests in different sites in a range of shapes and sizes and using various materials. Usually, the general type of nest is characteristic for each species and is innate, but nest structure, size and composition can vary within the same species in relation to many factors such as nest site characteristics, ambient temperature and altitude. These facts imply that the composition of a bird’s nest can be adaptive with respect to the physical requirements of its structure.

In the case of cavity-nesting birds, studies of nest composition have usually used artificial nest boxes. On the one hand, it makes studies easier and gives opportunity for control and use of various factors, but on the other, it restricts birds to specific, artificial conditions. However, construction of nests evolved in natural conditions and in such situations birds will have responded to various factors. Long-term intensive forest management often damages natural habitats and restricts suitable places for breeding for cavity-nesting birds. 
Studies in natural conditions have important value for understanding natural mechanisms. So far, some papers have described natural nest-sites of cavity-nesters but no papers have been published about nest composition of birds breeding in natural tree cavities.

The aim of this study was to describe the nest composition of the Red-breasted Flycatcher breeding in natural holes in primeval stands and to determine the influence of nest site characteristics on nest composition.

Read the full paper in Avian Biology Research, Volume 9, Number 2, June 2016, pp. 71-75

Authors: Cezary Mitrusa and Anna Drężekb

aDepartment of Zoology, University of Rzeszów, Zelwerowicza 4, 35‑601 Rzeszów, Poland
bDepartment of Zoology, University of Natural Sciences and Humanities in Siedlce, Prusa 12, 08‑110 Siedlce, Poland

Keywords: nest construction, stage of tree, natural condition, Białowieża Forest

DOI: 10.3184/175815516X14447552865721

Image: Red-throated Flycatcher (Ficedula albicilla), courtesy of tanoochai / Shutterstock.com