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SONG QUALITY DOES NOT INDICATE MALE PARENTAL ABILITIES IN THE PIED FLYCATCHER FICEDULA HYPOLEUCA

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Female pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca prefer to mate with males having complex songs, but the benefits of this preference are not known. One potential benefit might be that males with complex songs are of higher quality and thus contribute more to the feeding of the brood than males with simple songs. We tested this by recording the feeding rate of males in two different populations in Norway. Neither the feeding rate nor the male′s contribution to the feeding relative to his mate correlated significantly with song complexity (27 and 21 males studied, respectively). However, male feeding rate may be influenced by female feeding effort. Therefore, we also recorded body mass change of 13-day-old nestlings of 30 males during a period of eight hours of enforced female absence. The males were matched in pairs according to brood size and, if necessary, nestlings were exchanged between broods to reduce initial differences in body mass. Both males in each pair were treated on the same day. The change in brood mass did not differ significantly between males with complex and simple songs, and the latter males did not lose more body mass than the former males during female absence. Thus, we conclude that female pied flycatchers mated with males having large song repertoires do not seem to benefit in terms of increased feeding effort from their mates.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Natural Science, Finnmark College, N-9500 Alta, Norway; 2: Department of Biology, Division of Zoology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway; 3: Department of Zoology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway

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