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Brief Research Report ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00322

Time spent with parents varies with early-life condition, but does not predict survival or sociality of juvenile hihi

 Victoria R. Franks1, 2*, Mhairi McCready2, 3,  James L. Savage1, 4 and  Rose Thorogood1, 5
  • 1University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, United Kingdom
  • 3Other, New Zealand
  • 4University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • 5University of Helsinki, Finland

Many young birds die soon after fledging, as they lack the skills to find food and avoid predation. Post-fledging parental care is assumed to assist acquisition of these vital skills. However, we still lack empirical examples examining the length of time fledglings spend with parents, how they associate during this critical time, or whether such variation in the fledgling dependency period has consequences for the survival and behaviour of young as they navigate their first year of independent life. Here, we make use of observations and radio frequency identity (RFID) logs of visits to supplementary feeding stations to investigate how condition of fledgling hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta), a New Zealand passerine, predicts dispersal behaviour and tendency to follow parents during their two week post-fledging dependence period. We find that thinner fledglings followed their parents more closely in time when visiting feeding stations, compared to fatter siblings (all following ranged from 3 sec to 10 min). However, broods in poorer condition tended to disperse from the natal territory up to 6.5 days earlier than broods of fatter fledglings (all dispersed within 14 days). Our results did not find that sociality or survival during the first year of life differed depending on variation in fledgling behaviour; neither following parents closely nor dispersing later predicted each bird’s number of associates (degree), or survival over winter. These results suggest that fledglings may be able to compensate for early differences in condition with behaviour, either during the post-fledging dependence period or when independent.

Keywords: Dispersal, Nestling condition, Notiomystis cincta, Post-fledging parental care, Social network, Passerine

Received: 30 Apr 2019; Accepted: 09 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Franks, McCready, Savage and Thorogood. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Victoria R. Franks, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom,