Impact of weather variation on feeding behaviour, nestling growth and brood survival in Wrynecks Jynx torquilla

Abstract

While habitat destruction is thought to be the most important reason for the decline of the Wryneck Jynx torquilla throughout Europe, it has been hypothesised that weather factors may also play a crucial role. We studied the impact of variations in ambient temperature and rainfall on feeding behaviour, nestling growth and daily brood survival probabilities in a population from the Swiss Alps. We recorded the frequency of food provisioning and measured nestlings’ growth on 6 days at 17 nests, and monitored the success of 181 broods from 2002 to 2006. The mean feeding frequency was 7.9 feedings per hour, and increased with temperature and with nestling age. Changes of body mass, tarsus length and of the 8th primary feather were not strongly influenced by temperature and rainfall. Body growth was negatively influenced by the initial size of the different body measures towards the end of the growing phase of the corresponding body measure, pointing towards compensatory growth. Daily brood survival probabilities declined in the course of the season and with increasing rainfall, and they increased with increasing temperature and with increasing nestling age. Our findings highlight that the effects of adverse weather on feeding behaviour, nestling growth and nest survival in Wrynecks are complex, as they alter with the age of the nestlings and possibly with the duration of the adverse weather events.

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Acknowledgments

We like to thank Samuel Ehrenbold, Jacques Laesser, Fabio Leippert, Paul Mosimann, Thomas Reichlin, Antoine Sierro, Aline Tagmann-Ioset and Nadja Weisshaupt for assistance in the field, Louis-Felix Bersier for renting us the video equipment, and Thomas Friedl and two reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. The field-work was performed respecting Swiss laws and with the necessary licences.

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Correspondence to Michael Schaub.

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Communicated by T. Friedl.

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Geiser, S., Arlettaz, R. & Schaub, M. Impact of weather variation on feeding behaviour, nestling growth and brood survival in Wrynecks Jynx torquilla . J Ornithol 149, 597–606 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-008-0305-y

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Keywords

  • Compensatory growth
  • Feeding frequency
  • Nest survival
  • Temperature
  • Rainfall