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1 January 2013 Postfledging Movements in Birds: Do Tit Families Track Environmental Phenology?
Tore Slagsvold, Ane Eriksen, Rosa Mary De Ayala, Jan Husek, Karen L. Wiebe
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Abstract

Recent research on reproduction in animals has emphasized phenology and prey matching in the long term and on large spatial scales (e.g., linked to global climate change). We studied how individuals within one reproductive cycle and at small spatial scales may try to maximize access to food resources that vary in space and time. Herbivorous mammals are known to track favorable phenological stages of their food plants and move seasonally on the landscape. Whether phenology similarly affects spatial movements of birds on their breeding grounds is largely unknown. We studied postfledging movements of Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Great Tits (Parus major) when the young were escorted by parents during 19 to 43 days posthatching. This was done over 4 years in a 1.6-km2 woodland area in Norway in which an elevational gradient (105–266 m) caused a phenological delay in vegetation and peak abundance of caterpillar prey at the higher elevations. Postfledging movements were similar in the two tit species, with a mean distance moved from the nest to the site of observation of 134 m (range: 6–1,036, n = 104). On average, families moved upslope (mean = 4.8 m, range: -23 to 69 m; P = 0.002, n = 104), which suggests that they were able to track environmental phenology. However, most families did not move far from the nest site, possibly because the parents tried to defend a year-round territory and, therefore, could not afford to leave for longer periods.

© 2013 by The American Ornithologists' Union. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.
Tore Slagsvold, Ane Eriksen, Rosa Mary De Ayala, Jan Husek, and Karen L. Wiebe "Postfledging Movements in Birds: Do Tit Families Track Environmental Phenology?," The Auk 130(1), 36-45, (1 January 2013). https://doi.org/10.1525/auk.2012.12122
Received: 29 June 2012; Accepted: 5 November 2012; Published: 1 January 2013
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KEYWORDS
Blue Tit
Cyanistes caeruleus
dispersal
feeding
foraging
gradient
Great Tit
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