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A curate's egg: feeding birds during reproduction is 'good in parts'. A study of blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus and great tits Parus major

Harrison, Timothy James Edward (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Food supplementation of birds in gardens is widespread and UK householders have recently been advised to supplement birds throughout the spring and summer. This coincides with reproduction of many avian species and supplementation with specific foods (e.g. live invertebrates) is encouraged to support breeding attempts in gardens. To investigate this further I mimicked food supplementation in gardens by providing two commercial bird foods (peanut cake and mealworms \(Tenebrio\) \( molitor\) to blue tits \(Cyanistes\) \(caeruleus\) and great tits \(Parus\) \(major\) breeding in woodland in central England from 2006 to 2008. Supplementation advanced laying and reduced the number of young fledged significantly in both species, but provisioning with mealworms during the nestling phase increased apparent survival of fledglings. Intriguingly, however, stable isotope analysis revealed that supplement use was insubstantial and similar between birds on supplemented and non-supplemented territories. Analyses of data from the British Trust for Ornithology’s Nest Record Scheme demonstrated strong parallels between findings of my field study and patterns of reproduction of blue and great tits in urban habitats across the UK. I discuss the implications of my findings, including the use of food supplementation in avian conservation and in pure scientific research, and I outline exciting future directions.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Martin, Graham and Reynolds, James
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Biosciences
Subjects:QH Natural history
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:590
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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