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The role of blunt egg pole characteristics for recognition of eggs in the song thrush (Turdus philomelos)

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image of Behaviour

Colour and speckling of avian eggshells play important roles in egg recognition behaviour. However, only a few studies have paid attention to whether specific parts of eggs may be more important than others in rejection decisions by hosts. We hypothesised that the blunt pole in song thrush (Turdus philomelos) eggs possesses important cues for recognition of own eggs because this is the most visible part of the egg in the nest. We examined host response towards conspecific eggs painted blue either at the blunt or sharp poles, and used unpainted conspecific eggs as a control. We found, as predicted, that the experimental eggs painted blue at the blunt poles were rejected significantly more often than the experimental eggs unpainted at this pole. Rejection rates of experimental eggs were higher with increasing differences in number of spots between the two poles of own eggs. Our results confirmed that the essential cues used for egg discrimination in song thrushes are found at the blunt egg pole.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Palacký University, tř. Svobody, 26, CZ-771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic; Institute of Vertebrate Biology, v. v. i., Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Květná 8, CZ-603 65 Brno, Czech Republic; 2: Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway; 3: Institute of Vertebrate Biology, v. v. i., Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Květná 8, CZ-603 65 Brno, Czech Republic


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