Energy relations of winter roost-site utilization by American goldfinches (Carduelis tristis)
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- Buttemer, W.A. Oecologia (1985) 68: 126. doi:10.1007/BF00379484
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American goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) were observed roosting in Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens), which comprised part of a mixed stand of conifers. Their winter roost-sites were distally situated among the most densely-needled branches on the leeward sides of these trees. Heated and unheated taxidermic goldfinch mounts were placed within these sites and at the same height in an adjacent clearing. The radiative and convective characteristics of these locations were monitored simultaneously and compared to predicted power requirements of live goldfinches (based on laboratory calibration of heated mounts) and operative temperatures (Te; based on body temperatures of unheated mounts). The winter roost-sites significantly reduced radiative and convective heat exchanges between goldfinches and the environment. Based on body composition data for winter goldfinches, all but two birds sampled could endure a 15-h roost period at average overnight Te's as low as-40°C. In contrast, if these birds were prevented from feeding the following day, only 30% could survive the imposition of a 39-h fast at average Te's of-2°C. Winter roost-site selection may be more constrained by thermoregulatory considerations in small birds than in larger species.