Extra-pair young despite strong pair bonds in theEuropean Nuthatch ( Sitta europaea)

Wood Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) Science Article 2


We choose the European Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), an extremely socially monogamous passerine species, to investigate the breeding biology and frequency of extra-pair activities of females. Breeding individuals live in strong pair bonds for their total life and defend their territory all year round. As a consequence of these narrow social bonds, nuthatches have to date been considered extremely sexually monogamous. Our genetic study, however, reveals a minimum of 10% of extra-pair young in 188 chicks from 32 broods in populations of southwestern Germany. Independently of the habitat type (high via low quality), most of extra-pair sires are identified as neighbouring territory holders.

Gernot Segelbacher, Daniela Kabisch, Michael Stauss, J Ornithol (2005) 146: 99-102

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