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Effect of nestbox type on occupancy and breeding biology of Tree Sparrows Passer montanus in central Spain

AuthorsGarcía-Navas, Vicente ; Arroyo, Luis; Sanz, Juan José ; Díaz Esteban, Mario
Keywordsbreeding ecology
laying date
Passer montanus
Tree Sparrow
Issue Date2008
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationIbis 150: 356-364 (2008)
AbstractAvian life-history studies are often conducted on populations nesting in nestboxes. However, the type of nestbox used is a potentially confounding variable, as each model shows specific characteristics. In recent decades, a new commercial model of artificial nestbox made of woodcrete, a mixture of sawdust and additives, has become popular owing to its better protection against predators compared with the classic wooden design. We assess the effect of nestbox type on the breeding ecology of Tree Sparrows Passer montanus , focusing on their thermal properties, an influential factor in nestbox selection. Occupancy rates and reproductive parameters of Tree Sparrows were compared between birds breeding in woodcrete and wooden nestboxes over 5 years. Woodcrete nestboxes had a higher occupancy rate and birds breeding in them had earlier clutches, a shorter incubation period and more reproductive attempts per season than birds nesting in wooden boxes. Clutch size and nestling condition did not differ between nestbox types, but reproductive success was higher in woodcrete nestboxes. The higher temperature in woodcrete nestboxes (1.5 ° C higher on average) might explain these differences. Such differences may bias results obtained in comparative studies where more than one nestbox type is used.
Publisher version (URL)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2008.00799.x/abstract
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