Hatching asynchrony in altricial songbirds can influence the morphology and behavior of nestling birds. We compared the position of nestling Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) in the hatching hierarchy to their (1) position in the egg-laying order, (2) rate of nestling begging, (3) circulating corticosterone, (4) size, and (5) plumage coloration. Most nestlings hatched within 36 hrs of each other, and nestlings hatched in the order in which eggs were laid. Early-hatched nestlings were heavier than late-hatched nestlings for the duration of the growth period and begged less intensely than their late-hatched siblings. There was little evidence of severe effects of hatch order. Hatch order did not influence nestling corticosterone levels nor did we find effects of hatch order on ornamental plumage coloration. Our data suggest no long-term effect of hatching asynchrony on the development of sexually selected plumage coloration.
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