Is the later arrival of young male red-breasted flycatchers ( Ficedula parva ) related to their physical condition?

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) Science Article 2


Intraspecific variation in the arrival time of migratory birds to breeding grounds is common. Although this phenomenon has been explained in various ways, the condition-dependency of arrival is often evoked. I analyzed the arrival time of male red-breasted flycatchers Ficedula parva, a long-distance migratory passerine, in relation to age, body size and body condition. Data were collected over the course of 5 years in the primeval Bialowieza Forest of northeast Poland. Each of these years, young males arrived at the breeding grounds significantly later in the year than did older males. Young males also exhibited significantly shorter wings and lower body condition than older males. Settlement speed was significantly related to age, but not to wing length or body condition. Only the arrival time of old males was related to the body mass and condition. Later arrival of young males could be explained by the lack of experience or by avoidance of both aggression and competition from older males, and both explanations are thought to conserve energy for breeding. Young male red-breasted flycatchers exhibit delayed plumage maturation, and this duller plumage supports the strategy of restraint in the arrival time of young males in this species.

Cezary Mitrus, J Ornithol (2007) 148:53-58

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