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Old nest material functions as an informative cue in making nest-site selection decisions in the European Kestrel(Falco tinnunculus)

Mingju E  Tuo Wang  Shangyu Wang  Ye Gong  Jiangping Yu  Lin Wang  Wei Ou  Haitao Wang  
【摘要】:Background:For secondary cavity-nesting bird species that do not add lining materials to nests,the presence of old nest material or organic remains that have accumulated within nest cavities from previous breeding events may be a cue of nest-site quality.These materials potentially contain information about past breeding success in con-and heterospecifics and may improve the thermal insulation of eggs during incubation.However,few studies have addressed whether the presence of old nest materials serves as a cue for cavity-nesting raptors when choosing specific nest sites.Methods:We conducted a 9-year nest box experiment to test whether old nest materials from con-and heterospecifics serve as informative cues to the European Kestrel(Falco tinnunculus) when making nest selection decisions,as this species uses nest boxes without adding nesting material.Results:The presence of old nest materials and entrance size best discriminated nest boxes occupied by European Kestrels from unoccupied boxes.Nest boxes containing conspecific organic remains,artificial dry leaf and branch material,and material left behind by Great Tits(Parus major) were reused at higher rates,especially those containing conspecific nest material,than nest boxes containing true or simulated nest materials from predators.In 2010,no single nest box was occupied by the same banded individual that occupied the box in the previous year(10 females and 2 males were banded in 2009).Conclusions:European Kestrels preferred nest boxes containing old nest material over empty boxes,which is consistent with previous findings that they exploit con-and heterospecific cues when deciding where to settle and breed,as old nest or organic material provides substrate for incubating females.Kestrels may be able to assess the predation risks associated with a specific nest site based on experience or the presence of prey remains.The repeated use of nest boxes across breeding seasons by kestrels cannot be entirely ascribed to philopatry.This study provides evidence that old nest materials are potentially used as informative cues when making nest-site selection decisions in European Kestrels.

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