Nest entry shape change may cause nest abandonment in urban cavity-nesting species: a case study of the Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
The threat of predation is the main cause of bird nest abandonment, with such behaviour imposing considerable energetic costs on breeding birds. However, for several species, nest abandonment can be a less costly alternative to complete brood failure. In this study, we examined nest abandonment among Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) by surveying 71 Tree Sparrow nests with various types of entry holes and conducted artificially manipulating some of the entrance shapes. We found that nest abandonment was caused by changes to the nest entry shape in seven cases and by human interference in two cases. Nest abandonments occurred throughout the breeding season, and breeding pairs attempted to breed again immediately after nest abandonment. The results of the artificial nest entry shape manipulation experiment showed that nine of twelve nests (75.0%) were abandoned where the nest entrance holes were widened, and six of eleven nests (54.5%) were abandoned where the nest entrance holes were narrowed. However, none of the nests were abandoned where the entry shape was unchanged. Thus, nest abandonment by Tree Sparrows is correlated with nest entry shape manipulation and is more likely to occur when the energy cost of breeding again is less than that of abandoning the nest.
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