Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 129, Issue 2, pp 151–162 | Cite as

Seasonal changes in the blood composition of captive and free-living White-crowned Sparrows

  • William A. deGraw
  • Michael D. Kern
  • James R. King


Seasonal changes in several blood components (cholesterol, phospholipid phosphorus, glyceride glycerol, free fatty acids, and calcium), hematocrit, and body mass were studied in captive and free-living groups of White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) over a 2-year period. Cholesterol, phospholipid phosphorus, and glyceride glycerol levels were correlated with body mass and all of them changed in parallel during the year (Table 2 and Figs. 1–3). These lipids were elevated during premigratory and migratory periods, minimal during the summer breeding period, and reduced during periods of body molt. Concentrations of them were consistently higher in captive birds than in free-living ones. Free fatty acid levels were highly variable and not correlated with levels of other blood lipids or with body mass (Fig. 4). However, they too increased during premigratory periods. On the other hand, they were consistently higher in free-living sparrows than in captives. Plasma calcium was relatively constant at 3–5 mEq/l between July and the following March (Fig. 5). It increased during the spring, but earlier than preparations for migration by 2–3 weeks. It was also elevated in egg-laying females. The hematocrit rose during the vernal migratory period, but not during the autumnal one; was minimal in breeding birds; and declined during periods of body molt (Fig. 6). Calcium and hematocrit levels were similar in captive and free-living birds. It appears that captive populations of White-crowned Sparrows generally provide relibale information concerning changes in blood composition that are taking place concurrently in the field.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. deGraw
    • 1
  • Michael D. Kern
    • 1
  • James R. King
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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