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1 June 2014 Provisioning Behavior of Male and Female Indigo Buntings
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Abstract

The provisioning behavior of male and female songbirds varies among species, but most species exhibit biparental care. Our objective was to examine the provisioning behavior of male and female Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea), a species where males are reported to provide little or no parental care. Nests (n  =  16) were video-taped during the 9-day nestling period and provisioning rates of adult buntings subsequently quantified. Provisioning rates of female buntings varied with nestling age, with 7–9-day old nestlings fed at higher rates than 1–6-day old nestlings. This increase was likely because of the increasing energy demands of nestlings. Male buntings provisioned nestlings at only three of 16 nests (18.8%), and primarily on days 7–9 post- hatching. Given the apparent relationships among paternal care, mating systems, and habitat characteristics, high-quality habitat may be an important factor contributing to reduced levels of paternal care by male buntings, along with opportunistic polygyny. Highly productive habitats with plentiful food resources may allow one parent to successfully care for young. Although habitats occupied by Indigo Buntings are apparently of sufficient quality to have favored a reduction in male parental care, variation in territory quality may require the contributions of some males to enhance nestling survival.

2014 by the Wilson Ornithological Society
Gary Ritchison and Kimberly P. Little "Provisioning Behavior of Male and Female Indigo Buntings," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 126(2), (1 June 2014). https://doi.org/10.1676/13-147.1
Received: 13 September 2013; Accepted: 1 December 2013; Published: 1 June 2014
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