Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 403–409

Circadian entrainment by feeding cycles in house sparrows, Passer domesticus

  • M. Hau
  • E. Gwinner

DOI: 10.1007/BF00191457

Cite this article as:
Hau, M. & Gwinner, E. J Comp Physiol A (1992) 170: 403. doi:10.1007/BF00191457


We studied the potential zeitgeber qualities of periodic food availability on the circadian rhythms of locomotor and feeding activity of house sparrows. The birds were initially held in a LD-cycle of 12:12 h, with food restricted to the light phase. After transfer to constant dim light, the birds remained entrained by the restricted feeding schedule. Following an exposure to food ad libitum conditions, the rhythms could be re-synchronized by the feeding cycle. Shortening of the zeitgeber period to 23.5 h resulted in the loss of entrainment in most birds, whereas a longer zeitgeber period of 25 h re-entrained the rhythms of most birds. Although these results prove that periodic food availability can act as a zeitgeber for the circadian rhythms of house sparrows, several features of our data indicate that restricted feeding is only a weak zeitgeber. The pattern of feeding activity prior to the daily time of food access shown under some experimental conditions suggests that anticipation is due to a positive phase-angle difference of the birds' normal circadian system rather than being caused by a separate pacemaker.

Key words

Avian circadian rhythms Hopping and feeding Restricted feeding Food entrainment Anticipation 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Hau
    • 1
  • E. Gwinner
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieAndechsGermany

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