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Papers by Reginald Moreau, David Lack, and Alexander Skutch published during the 1940s set the stage for the development of thinking about life histories over the following decades. Lack was concerned about the fundamental issue of individual vs. group selection and turned life-history evolution into a battleground for this debate. His monolithic focus on nesting success as a measure of fitness and on food availability as the principal determinant of nesting success obscured the rich empirical background brought to the debate by Skutch and the diverse evolutionary forces envisioned by Moreau. Lack's strong convictions, single-mindedness, and eloquence forced biologists to confront several important problems but also held back the full development of life-history theory until the mid-1960s. Retrospective consideration of these early life-history studies shows how science can progress through a balance of conviction and reflection.
Although we have learned much about avian life histories during the 50 years since the seminal publications of David Lack, Alexander Skutch, and Reginald Moreau, we still do not have adequate explanations for some of the basic patterns of variation in life-history traits among birds. In part, this reflects two consequences of the predominance of evolutionary ecology thinking during the past three decades. First, by blurring the distinction between life-history traits and life-table variables, we have tended to divorce life histories from their environmental context, which forms the link between the life history and the life table. Second, by emphasizing constrained evolutionary responses to selective factors, we have set aside alternative explanations for observed correlations among life-history traits and life-table variables. Density-dependent feedback and independent evolutionary response to correlated aspects of the environment also may link traits through different mechanisms. Additionally, in some cases we have failed to evaluate quantitatively ideas that are compelling qualitatively, ignored or explained away relevant empirical data, and neglected logical implications of certain compelling ideas. Comparative analysis of avian life histories shows that species are distributed along a dominant slow-fast axis. Furthermore, among birds, annual reproductive rate and adult mortality are directly proportional to each other, requiring that pre-reproductive survival is approximately constant. This further implies that age at maturity increases dramatically with increasing adult survival rate. The significance of these correlations is obscure, particularly because survival and reproductive rates at each age include the effects of many life-history traits. For example, reproductive rate is determined by clutch size, nesting success, season length, and nest-cycle length, each of which represents the outcome of many different interactions of an individual's life-history traits with its environment. Resolution of the most basic issues raised by patterns of life histories clearly will require innovative empirical, modeling, and experimental approaches. However, the most fundamental change required at this time is a broadening of the evolutionary ecology paradigm to include a variety of alternative mechanisms for generating patterns of life-history variation.
Breeding birds can generally be thought of as having evolved life-history traits that tend to maximize lifetime reproductive success. Within this broad pattern, many variations are possible because all traits are co-evolved with numerous others in complex ways. Clutch-size, for example, has long been understood to be frequently lower than the number of young parents are capable of supporting by working at their top capacity, especially in long-lived species. Nevertheless, studies of species with fatal competition among nestmates have shown that parents routinely create one offspring more than they normally will raise, as if counting on brood-reduction to trim family size after hatching. Three general and mutually compatible parental incentives for initial over-production have been identified, with David Lack's resource-tracking hypothesis having received the most attention. Extra sibs can also assist each other in some circumstances, but a third explanation for over-production that has been around for nearly four decades, the insurance hypothesis, has been surprisingly overlooked and, in some cases, actively challenged. It simply posits that parents create extra offspring as back-ups for members of the core brood that chance to die very early. We propose that the skepticism over the role of insurance is misdirected, that having a back-up is virtually automatic as a contributing incentive to parents and, in some taxa, that it provides a necessary and totally sufficient explanation for over-production. Some empirical approaches to the study of the insurance hypothesis are reviewed, in hopes of encouraging further field study of over-production in general, because that process underlies much of the internal conflict observed in avian families.
Most organisms live in seasonal environments that fluctuate on a predictable schedule and sometimes unpredictably. Individuals must, therefore, adjust so as to maximize their survival and reproductive success over a wide range of environmental conditions. In birds, as in other vertebrates, endocrine secretions regulate morphological, physiological, and behavioral changes in anticipation of future events. The individual thus prepares for predictable fluctuations in its environment by changing life-cycle stages. We have applied finite-state machine theory to define and compare different life-history cycles. The ability of birds to respond to predictable and unpredictable regimes of environmental variation may be constrained by the adaptability of their endocrine control systems. We have applied several theoretical approaches to natural history data of birds to compare the complexity of life cycles, the degree of plasticity of timing of stages within the cycle, and to determine whether endocrine control mechanisms influence the way birds respond to their environments. The interactions of environmental cues on the timing of life-history stages are not uniform in all populations. Taking the reproductive life-history stage as an example, arctic birds that have short breeding seasons in severe environments appear to use one reliable environmental cue to time reproduction and they ignore other factors. Birds having longer breeding seasons exhibit greater plasticity of onset and termination and appear to integrate several environmental cues. Theoretical approaches may allow us to predict how individuals respond to their environment at the proximate level and, conversely, predict how constraints imposed by endocrine control systems may limit the complexity of life cycles.
In recent years, two approaches have emerged for the analysis of character evolution: the largely statistical “convergence” approach and the mainly cladistic “homology” approach. I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches as they apply to phylogenetic analyses of life-history variation in birds. Using examples from analyses of character variation in swallows, I suggest that the phylogenetic approach yields distinctive insights into the selective role of the environment and other characters of the organism on the evolution of life-history traits. This view thus has the potential of bringing together micro- and macro-evolutionary views of life-history evolution.
Vocal signals of a species are social signals and guides to its social life. Sound spectrograms were made of 21 of the 26 vocal signals in the extensive vocal repertoire of the African Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus). A spectrographic key to vocal signals helps make these signals comparable for different investigators. Short-distance contact calls are given in favorable situations and are generally characterized by low amplitude and great brevity of notes. Alarm cries are longer, louder, and often strident calls with much energy at high frequencies, whereas threat notes, also relatively long and harsh, emphasize lower frequencies. Each male displays his newest nest in a colony with an individually distinctive call to unmated females. The most harmonic calls of the species include a loud call by a male when an unmated female first enters his nest, and also very soft, brief notes given by parent birds to attract a fledgling. Males use somewhat different songs to defend territory, for courtship, and for advertisement. Application of Darwin's (1872) principle of antithesis suggests that vocal signals are composed of basic elements that vary in duration, frequency, loudness, and tonality of notes. These variations can be arranged in pairs of opposite extremes serving to reduce ambiguity in signals, in effect a communication code. At the same time, other selection pressures can enter in according to circumstances to modify the expression of this basic code in evolution.
The acoustic adaptation hypothesis (AAH) predicts that vocalizations intended for unambiguous long range communication should possess amplitude modulation (AM) characteristics such that the temporal patterning of amplitude degrades less than alternative patterns during transmission through native habitat. The specific predictions are that open habitat signals should be structured as rapid AM trills, whereas closed habitat signals should be structured as low-rate AM tonal whistles. To investigate the benefit of trill- and whistle-structured signals in open and closed habitats, respectively, a high and low carrier frequency set of four synthetic signals which ranged from rapid AM trills to low rate AM whistles were transmitted 3 hours after sunrise through five different habitat types ranging from closed mature forest to open grassland. Results indicate that, on average, whistles degrade less than trills in both habitats. Trills benefit in open habitats through their tendency to be received with a more consistent quality than whistles. Such differences in transmission consistency among AM patterns are not found in closed habitats. While not degrading less on average, lower frequency signals are received with a more consistent quality than are higher frequency signals of the same AM structure, in both open and closed habitats.
We used a hierarchical approach to describe habitat characteristics of song posts and foraging sites used by Varied Thrushes (Ixoreus naevius) in coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests of northwestern California. We measured mesohabitat (0.04-ha circular plots) and microhabitat (0.5-m radius) scale attributes centered on occupied and random song posts and foraging locations at four study sites during March–August of 1994 and 1995. Ninety-five percent of song posts were in trees or snags. Male thrushes used song posts with low foliage density near the top of large conifers (microhabitat scale), located on steeper slopes, surrounded by a high density of trees, and centered in drainages closer to water (mesohabitat scale) as compared to random locations. Varied Thrushes foraged predominantly on the ground early in the breeding season, then subsequently included fruit in their diet after the young had fledged. Although many variables were correlated with ground foraging locations, microhabitat foliage density had the greatest explanatory power, indicating thrushes selected foraging locations primarily at the microhabitat scale, and emphasizing the importance of measuring habitat characteristics at the appropriate spatial scale. Abrupt forest edges, such as those produced by clearcuts, may reduce habitat suitability for Varied Thrushes possibly explaining their absence from small forest fragments during the breeding season.
The Mississippi Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pulla) reintroduction program is the largest crane reintroduction effort in the world. Here we report on a 4-year experiment in which we compared post-release survival rates of 56 hand-reared and 76 parent-reared Mississippi Sandhill Cranes. First-year survival was 80%. Surprisingly, hand-reared cranes survived better than parent-reared birds, and the highest survival rates were for hand-reared juveniles released in mixed cohorts with parent-reared birds. Mixing improved survival most for parent-reared birds released with hand-reared birds. These results demonstrate that hand-rearing can produce birds which survive at least as well as parent-reared birds and that improved survival results from mixing hand-reared and parent-reared birds.
We studied Double-toothed Kites (Harpagus bidentatus) in tropical lowland forest at Tikal National Park, Petén, Guatemala, documenting behavior and diet during the incubation and nestling periods. These 200-g kites are Accipiter-like in form and strikingly size-dimorphic for a kite. Modal clutch size was two, producing 0.63 fledglings per nesting attempt and 1.25 per successful nest. Nesting was largely synchronous among pairs, with hatching during the first month of the rainy season and fledging one month later. Incubation lasted 42–45 days and nestlings fledged at 29.5 days on average. A radio-tagged fledgling was fed near the nest for 35 days; 6–8 weeks after fledging it dispersed at least 10 km, presumably reaching independence. Males did not incubate or brood, and rarely fed nestlings directly. Males typically provided most but not all prey (mainly lizards) during incubation and early nestling periods. Insects in the nestling diet increased through the nestling period as females increasingly hunted, often bringing in insects. These kites hunted from perches, below and within the closed canopy of tall, mature forest, taking 60.5% insects, 38.1% lizards, and 1.4% other vertebrates; vertebrates comprised at least 75% of prey biomass. Most prey were taken from vegetation, but prey in flight also were captured. Active, adjacent nests averaged 1.35 km apart, for a maximum density estimate of 0.60 pairs km−2 and a more likely estimate of 0.33–0.50 pairs km−2 in homogeneous, favorable habitat and 0.29–0.44 pairs km−2 for Tikal National Park as a whole.
We examined the seasonal movements of wing-tagged and radio-marked adult female Great Bustards Otis tarda in a population in northwestern Spain. Four different movement patterns were found: females that migrated between breeding and wintering areas (20%), females that only left their year-round home range area to mate (32%), females that migrated from a wintering-mating area to a nesting-summering area (16%), and females that stayed all year round within a relatively small home range area (32%). All females displayed fidelity to their nesting and wintering areas, and most also showed fidelity to their leks. Migration patterns were not affected either in timing or distance by breeding success. The maximum distance between natal and dispersal locations during their first year of life was significantly higher in migratory females than in sedentary ones. These patterns explained the seasonal variations in population numbers observed in the study area. Surveys showed that the number of females increased from 600–700 breeding birds, with 1,000–1,100 birds present from October to March.
A population of individually marked Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) at White Rock, British Columbia, Canada was examined to measure the degree of population differentiation among birds which pair during the winter months. This required an understanding of the patterns of emigration among wintering sites in different segments of the population. Some juveniles arrived at the wintering grounds accompanied by their mothers, thus initially arriving into the same winter population as their parents. Young males were more likely than young females to disperse during the first two years of life. Adult males had higher local survival than adult females during the summer months, probably because of the greater mortality risks to nesting females. During the nonbreeding seasons, local survival was the same in both sexes. Paired males had a local survival of more than 90%, suggesting both high survival and strong philopatry. Unpaired males had a lower local survival rate, suggesting they have higher mortality and/or emigration rates. Young females had the same local survival rate as adult females, suggesting that they did not disperse during the winter. These winter philopatry patterns are similar to the general pattern of breeding philopatry in waterfowl, with females showing stronger philopatry than males, and paired adults stronger philopatry than unpaired and young birds. The dispersal of young males makes local population differentiation unlikely in this species.
We tracked the movements of Common Murres (Uria aalge), Thick-billed Murres (U. lomvia), and Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) using surgically implanted satellite transmitters. From 1994–1996, we tagged 53 birds from two colonies in the Gulf of Alaska (Middleton Island and Barren Islands) and two colonies in the Chukchi Sea (Cape Thompson and Cape Lisburne). Murres and puffins ranged 100 km or farther from all colonies in summer, but most instrumented birds had abandoned breeding attempts and their movements likely differed from those of actively breeding birds. However, murres whose movements in the breeding period suggested they still had chicks to feed foraged repeatedly at distances of 50–80 km from the Chukchi colonies in 1995. We detected no differences in the foraging patterns of males and females during the breeding season, nor between Thick-billed and Common Murres from mixed colonies. Upon chick departure from the northern colonies, male murres—some believed to be tending their flightless young—drifted with prevailing currents toward Siberia, whereas most females flew directly south toward the Bering Sea. Murres from Cape Thompson and Cape Lisburne shared a common wintering area in the southeastern Bering Sea in 1995, and birds from Cape Lisburne returned to the same area in the winter of 1996. We conclude that differences in foraging conditions during summer rather than differential mortality rates in winter account for contrasting population trends previously documented in those two colonies.
We estimated survival of Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) and Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) from recapture rates during 1994–1997. For both species, a two “age”-class model provided the best fit. Estimates of local adult survival were significantly lower for Cassin's Auklet (0.672 ± 0.047) than for Rhinoceros Auklet (0.829 ± 0.095). Our estimate of survival appears lower than that required for the maintenance of a stable population of Cassin's Auklets. The available information indicates that a low survival rate and a declining population at Triangle Island are plausible, particularly given the recent large scale oceanographic changes which have occurred in the North Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, additional mark-recapture data and indexes of population size are required to rigorously demonstrate population declines at the world's largest Cassin's Auklet colony.
We examined the control of body temperature during active and resting behaviors in chicks of a large precocial bird, the Greater Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens atlantica), growing in a cold Arctic environment. Imprinted goslings from 4 to 31 days old maintained their mean (± SD) body core temperature within a narrow range around 40.6 ± 0.2°C (range: 38.7–42.2°C), independently of changes in their thermal environment. Average body temperature increased <0.4°C between 4 and 31 days of age. Hypothermia, potentially an energy-saving mechanism, was not used by active goslings. The potential for heat loss to the environment influenced the length of resting bouts in wild goslings. As environmental temperature increased, wild goslings remained sitting alone for longer periods, whereas when it decreased, brooding behavior was prolonged. The time spent huddling increased with the number of goslings involved. Body temperature during huddling bouts measured in imprinted chicks was significantly lower than during periods of activity, showing a rapid decrease averaging 0.8°C at the onset of huddling, followed by a slow recovery before activity was resumed. Thus, huddling behavior was not used as a rewarming mechanism. Greater Snow Goose goslings appear to prioritize metabolic activity by maintaining a high body temperature, despite the high energy costs that may be involved. Social thermoregulation is used to reduce the energy costs entailed by the strict maintenance of homeothermy.
We conducted genetic analyses of Aleutian Canada Geese (Branta canadensis leucopareia) from Buldir Island in the western Aleutians and the Semidi Islands in the eastern portion of their breeding range. We compared data from seven microsatellite DNA loci and 143 base pairs of the control region of mitochondrial DNA from the two populations of Aleutian Canada Geese and another small-bodied subspecies, the Cackling Canada Goose (B. c. minima) which nests in western Alaska. The widely separated island-nesting Aleutian geese were genetically more closely related to each other than to mainland-nesting small-bodied geese. The populations of Aleutian geese were genetically differentiated from one another in terms of mitochondrial DNA haplotype and microsatellite allele frequencies, suggesting limited contemporary gene flow and/or major shifts in gene frequency through genetic drift. The degree of population genetic differentiation suggests that Aleutian Canada Goose populations could be considered separate management units. There was some evidence of population bottlenecks, although we found no significant genetic evidence of non-random mating or inbreeding.
I studied the lek organization and courtship displays of the Orange-crowned Manakin (Heterocercus aurantiivertex) in undisturbed, lowland rain forest in northeastern Peru. The majority of leks were in seasonally flooded or swampy forest, and most were situated around the borders of old ox-bow lakes. Males maintain loosely packed courts inside exploded leks or “quasi leks,” which may extend for more than 1 km. Within leks, males vocalize throughout the day and occasionally perform two distinctly different solitary displays. One is a spectacular aerial performance that begins above the canopy. The “log display” is performed just above ground- or water-level and consists of a series of short, ritualized jumps.
The western Indian Ocean holds five subspecies of the pantropical Audubon's Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri), but none was known to breed in the Mozambique Channel. Here, I describe a newly discovered population of Audubon's Shearwaters on Europa Island, southern Mozambique Channel. Comparison of geographic variation of morphometric characters showed that the birds of this population belong to the P. l. bailloni subspecies, previously thought to be endemic to the Mascarenes Islands. They were distinct from the three subspecies of the Comoro, Aldabra, and Seychelles group, suggesting that few successful exchanges of individuals occur between north of the Mozambique Channel and Europa Island. This biogeographic pattern is similar to that of two phylogenetically independent pelagic species from Europa Island. This suggests that a common cause related to geographic isolation and oceanic conditions in the Mozambique Channel may explain the apparent isolation of these three seabird populations from Europa Island.
We stored blood samples of Eastern Phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) in a lysis buffer (“QLB”) that has been used successfully to preserve blood samples of many other species. We found that although samples from adults were not affected greatly, samples of nestling blood stored for more than a few days did not reliably produce the quantity and quality of DNA useful for multi-locus DNA fingerprinting. We also were unable to extract usable DNA from blood samples collected from Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) nestlings, but obtained usable DNA from blood of Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) nestlings stored for more than a year. We recommend that anyone planning DNA research with tyrant flycatchers should conduct their DNA extractions as soon as possible after collection. A pilot study to test methods of storage, preservation, and extraction may be necessary before beginning a large-scale project.
We report the results of morphological and hormonal measurements of 101 male Common Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) captured during winter and at the beginning of the breeding season in order to identify correlates of ornament size. Androgen levels in January were bimodally distributed with one group with low hormone levels and a second group with high levels. In February, log transformed androgen levels were normally distributed, with all males showing values similar to the high-level group in January. Wattle size was positively correlated with androgens in January but not in February, suggesting that this male trait can indicate the ability of quality males to start earlier androgen production.
One group of brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) was observed for 19 months in French Guiana. White Hawks (Leucopternis albicollis) were seen in association with these monkeys throughout the year. Our study revealed that: (1) hawks mainly followed capuchins in open forest types, and in this vegetation they mainly flew at the height of 10–20 m from the ground where horizontal visibility is better than in other strata of the forest, (2) hawks usually landed preceding the monkey troop spreading into an area, and they followed the capuchin troop when the monkeys were traveling, and (3) no predation of any capuchins by hawks occurred at any time during our study, and seven times it was observed that hawks captured arboreal snakes disturbed by the movement of capuchins. We propose that White Hawks followed brown capuchins in this Amazonian forest primarily for capturing arboreal snakes disturbed by monkey troop movements.
We documented the frequency of pair reunion in Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) on breeding streams in Alberta, and at a molting/wintering area in southwestern British Columbia. As long as their mate is alive, Harlequin Duck pairs reunite on the wintering area and return to the breeding stream together. Pairs reunite even if the female is unsuccessful at breeding the previous season, which suggests that reuniting with the same mate year after year is important. Some males that have lost their mate and fail to re-pair on the wintering area show fidelity to their former breeding site.
We present information from 75 nests of Gray-crowned Tyrannulet (Serpophaga griseiceps) found in open Prosopis woodlands of the central Monte desert between 1995 and 1997 and compare it with information corresponding to other species of the genus. Breeding occurred from October to January. Nests are small open cups. Both parents participated in nest building, which lasted 4–7 days. In the Prosopis woodland, 98% of the nests were built in chañar (Geoffroea decorticans), which also is commonly used as a nest plant by S. subcristata in east-central Argentina. Mean clutch size did not vary among years nor within the breeding season, and it was similar to that observed in other Serpophaga. Both male and female shared the 13–15 day incubation period. Hatching was asynchronous. Nestling period lasted 13–14 days, during which both parents reared the chicks. Nesting success (26%) appeared to be less than that previously reported for Nearctic open-nesters (50–60%), and Neotropical open-nesters in dry (50%) and wet tropics (35%). Egg and nestling predation were the main cause of nest failure.
We examined foraging site selection by White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) wintering in the Grasslands Ecological Area, which contains the second largest population of nonbreeding ibis in California. We compared habitat variables at White-faced Ibis foraging sites with paired, random locations in managed wetlands of the Grasslands. We contrasted the density and biomass of benthic macroinvertebrates between a subsample of bird foraging locations and random sites. Compared to random locations, the foraging locations of White-faced Ibis were closer to emergent vegetation > 10 cm in height. Moreover, ibis selected foraging locations with significantly higher chironomid and lower oligochaete biomasses relative to random sites. These findings suggest that ibis foraged close to vegetation where prey abundance may be greater and illustrate the importance of maintaining the presence of emergent vegetation in freshwater wetlands.
We studied plumage patterns of known-sex nestling and juvenile Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) to develop a sexing technique for nestlings in the field. Markings on the secondaries varied according to sex, and differences were apparent from about 10–15 days of age. We also provide aging formulas based on mass for nestlings up to 15 days of age and on wing length for nestlings older than that age. Finally, we evaluate growth parameters according to sex. The asymptotes of body mass, wing length, and tarsus length growth curves were higher in females than males. The inflexion point was attained earlier by males than by females.
King (Somateria spectabilis) and Common Eiders (S. mollissima v-nigra) wintering off western North America migrate past Point Barrow, Alaska and across the Beaufort Sea to nest in northern Alaska and northwestern Canada. Migration counts were conducted by various researchers at Point Barrow during 1953, 1970, 1976, 1987, 1994, and 1996. We examined population trends by standardizing the analysis of the migration counts in all years. Based on this standardized procedure, the King Eider population appeared to remain stable between 1953 and 1976 but declined by 56% (or 3.9% year−1) from approximately 802,556 birds in 1976 to about 350,835 in 1996. The Common Eider population declined by 53% (or 3.6% year−1) from approximately 156,081 birds in 1976 to about 72,606 in 1996. Reasons for the declines are unknown.
Studies of faunal remains in California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) nests in the 1980s yielded bones and hair of a variety of small, medium-sized, and large mammals, and a near absence of avian and reptilian materials. A prevalence of small to medium-sized species may reflect ease of penetration of hides of such carrion and a relative abundance of ingestible bone from such species. Remains also included metal, plastic, and glass artifacts, likely mistaken for bone materials by condors. Size distributions of bone materials and percentage artifacts among hard remains suggest an overall absence of severe calcium-supply problems for condors.
We studied the timing, duration, and rate of wing molt of male Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica). The mean daily change in primary feather length was 2.6%, which is consistent with rates reported for other waterfowl species. The mean length of the flightless period was 31 days (range: 27–34 days), excluding the pre-shedding interval. Wing molt extended from early July to mid-September. Peak wing molt occurred between 20 July and 23 August. The mean body weight of adult males decreased significantly during wing molt. Heavier birds had greater remigial growth rates and experienced more substantial declines in body weight than lighter birds, suggesting that body reserves may be used to increase the rate of remigial growth.
We present behavioral observations and multilocus DNA fingerprinting data on Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) breeding in the sub-Arctic. We predicted that, where a large time/energy investment by males during incubation and chick-rearing is crucial for successful reproduction, both extra-pair copulation and fertilization rates would be low. Extra-pair copulations were infrequent (7% of total copulations), as were within pair copulations (0.44 hr−1). Copulations occurred, on average 6.2 days prior to clutch initiation. Males spent 64% of their time in visual contact with their mates. Mate guarding during the laying period was significantly more pronounced in coastal neighborhoods of breeding birds than among solitary-nesting pairs. Extra-pair fertilizations occurred in 4% of families resulting in an extra-pair paternity rate of 4.7%.
We tested concentration preferences of Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) offered sucrose solutions in small feeders in the field. When sucrose solutions differing in increments of 10%, from 10% to 70%, were presented simultaneously, hummingbirds preferred 50% to higher and lower concentrations. They did not show a significant preference in the range from 50% to 70% . When options were offered in pairs of choices differing from 1–25%, hummingbirds demonstrated statistically significant preferences that varied with mean concentration in a curvilinear manner. At concentrations approximating those of hummingbird-pollinated flowers (20%), hummingbirds showed greatest specificity and could distinguish solutions differing by only 1%. At concentrations above and below 20%, greater differences between choices were required to elicit significant preferences.