, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 61-67

Economics of courtship-feeding in the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster )

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Male bee-eaters Merops apiaster deliver food to the female before and during egg-laying. They tend to give females large items and eat the small ones themselves. We consider several hypotheses to account for size-selective feeding. The following hypotheses were rejected or considered unlikely to account for the data: (1) effects related to central-place foraging (2) differences in nutrient quality between prey (3) sexual selection (4) maximization of total feeding rate to the pair (5) maximization of intake rate to the male subject to a constraint of meeting female needs. The best account of the data was given by the hypothesis that the rate of energy delivered to the female is maximized subject to a constraint of meeting the daily energy needs of the male.