acta ethologica

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 87–91 | Cite as

A new material for old solutions—the case of plastic string used in Great Grey Shrike nests

  • Marcin Antczak
  • Martin Hromada
  • Paweł Czechowski
  • Jacek Tabor
  • Piotr Zabłocki
  • Jerzy Grzybek
  • Piotr Tryjanowski
Original Paper

Abstract

Innovative behaviours are defined as new behaviour patterns derived by the modification of pre-existing ones. To date, studies of animal innovation have focussed mainly on foraging activity. In this paper, we focussed on the innovative use of a new material—man-made plastic (polypropylene) string—in nest construction by a solitary nesting, territorial species, the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor. An analysis of field data collected during the years 1999–2006 during intensive shrike research in Poland, as well as of nest record cards since 1964, suggests that plastic string has been a very popular nest material since the 1980s. Recently, plastic string was used significantly more often by shrikes living in intensive farmland habitats than by those in more natural meadows. We discuss the possible benefits of the use of plastic string, such as strengthening the nest structure and therefore helping to protect eggs and nestlings from inclement weather conditions, such as strong winds. On the other hand, the use of plastic string has a real cost for breeding Great Grey Shrikes because both adult birds and nestlings may get tangled in it.

Keywords

Nest material Animal innovation Costs of innovation Farmland Lanius excubitor Conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

During our study on shrikes, many people and organisations supported us. We are very grateful to K. and M. Antczak, as well as PSNP “Salamandra” (particularly E. Olejnik and A. Kepel) for technical, financial and accommodation help. Lizzy Carroll and Tim Sparks kindly improved the English. We also thank three referees, especially L. Lefebvre for fruitful comments and suggestions. Studies on the breeding biology of the Great Grey Shrike in western Poland were supported by grants KBN 6PO4F 046 21 and 6PO4F 053 25, GEF/SGP Poland for PT, GAJU 60/2001/P-BF and SGA 2003 of University of South Bohemia for MA and SGA 2000 and MSM6007665801 for MH. The paper is dedicated to the memory of the late Prof. Zdeněk Veselovský.

References

  1. Antczak M, Hromada M, Grzybek J, Tryjanowski P (2004) Breeding biology of the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor in W Poland. Acta Orn 39:9–14Google Scholar
  2. Antczak M, Hromada M, Tryjanowski P (2005) Frogs and toads in the food of the Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor): using larders and skinning as two ways to consume dangerous prey. Anim Biol 55:227–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borgia G (1985) Bowers as markers of male quality. Test of a hypothesis. Anim Behav 33:266–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Collias NE, Collias EC (1984) Nest building and bird behaviour. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  5. Gajdon GK, Fijn N, Huber L (2006) Limited spread of innovation in wild parrot, the kea (Nestor notabilis). Anim Cogn 9:173–181CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Greenberg R (2003) The role of neophobia and neophilia in the development of innovative behaviour of birds. In: Reader SN, Laland KN (eds) Animal innovation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 83–116Google Scholar
  7. Hansell MH (1995) The demand for feathers as building material by woodland nesting birds. Bird Study 42:240–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hansell MH (2000) Birds nests and construction behaviour. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Hansell MH, Deeming DC (2002) Location, structure and function of incubation sites. In: Deeming DC (ed) Avian incubation. Behaviour, environment, and evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 8–27Google Scholar
  10. Hansell M, Ruxton GD (2002) An experimental study of the availability of feathers for avian nest building. J Avian Biol 33:319–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harris T, Franklin K (2000) Shrikes and Bush-shrikes. Christopher Helm. A & C Black, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Henriksen K (2000) Man-made materials in nests of Blackbirds. Dansk Orn Foren Tidsskr 94:93–96Google Scholar
  13. Hromada M, Tryjanowski P, Antczak M (2002) Presence of the great grey shrike affects breeding passerine assemblage. Ann Zool Fenn 39:125–130Google Scholar
  14. Lefebvre L (1995) The opening of milk bottles by birds: evidence for accelerating learning rates but against the wave-of-advance model of cultural transmission. Behav Proc 34:43–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lefebvre L, Whittle PW, Lascaris E, Finkelstein A (1997) Feeding innovations and forebrain size in birds. Anim Behav 55:549–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lefranc N (1997) Shrikes and farmed landscape in France. In: Pain DJ, Pienkowski MW (eds) Farming and birds in Europe. Academic, London, pp 236–268Google Scholar
  17. Lefranc N, Worflok T (1997) Shrikes. A guide to the Shrikes of the World. Pica Press, SussexGoogle Scholar
  18. Nicolakakis N, Lefebvre L (2000) Forebrain size and innovation rate in European birds: feeding, nesting and confounding variables. Behaviour 137:1415–1429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Olborska P, Kosicki JZ (2004) Breeding biology of the Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor): an analysis of nest record cards. Biol Lett 41:147–154Google Scholar
  20. Ptaszyk J (1994) Binfäden aus Polypropylen als Ursache des Todes junger Weißstörche (Ciconia ciconia) und anderer Tiere. Pr Zakł Biol Ekol Ptaków UAM 3:177–181Google Scholar
  21. Reader SM, Laland KN (2001) Primate innovation: sex, age and social rank differences. Int J Primatol 22:787–804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reader SM, Laland KN (2003) Animal Innovation. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Reader SM, MacDonald K (2003) Environmental variability and primate behavioural flexibility. In: Reader SM, Laland KN (eds) Animal innovation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 83–116Google Scholar
  24. Reader SN, Nover D, Lefebvre L (2002) Locale-specific sugar packet opening by Lesser Antillean Bullfinches in Barbados. J Field Ornithol 73(1):82–85Google Scholar
  25. Slack HEIII (1992) Entanglement in nest material causes mortality of young Loggerhead Shrikes. N Am Bird Bander 17:60Google Scholar
  26. Sol D, Timmermans S, Lefebvre L (2002) Behavioural flexibility and invasion success in birds. Anim Behav 63:495–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tabor J (2006) Occurrence of the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor in the breeding period in the Spała Landscape Park. Kulon 11:29–38Google Scholar
  28. Thompson CE, Ray GF, Preston RL (1996) Nectar robbing in Blue Tits Parus caeruleus: failure of novel feeding trait to spread. Ibis 138:552–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tryjanowski P, Hromada M, Antczak M (1999) Breeding habitat selection in the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor—the importance of meadows and spring crops. Acta Orn 34:59–63Google Scholar
  30. Yosef R (1992) From nest building to fledging of young in Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) at Sede Boquer. Israel J Orn 133:279–285Google Scholar
  31. Yosef R, Whitman DW (1992) Predator exaptations and defensive adaptations in evolutionary balance: no defence is perfect. Evol Ecol 6:527–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zar JH (1999) Biostatistical analysis, 4th edn. Prentice Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcin Antczak
    • 1
  • Martin Hromada
    • 2
  • Paweł Czechowski
    • 3
  • Jacek Tabor
    • 4
  • Piotr Zabłocki
    • 5
  • Jerzy Grzybek
    • 1
  • Piotr Tryjanowski
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Behavioural EcologyAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Institute for Tourism and RecreationState Higher Vocational School in SulechówSulechówPoland
  4. 4.Spała Landscape ParkInowłódzPoland
  5. 5.Opole Silesia Museum, Department of Natural HistoryOpolePoland
  6. 6.Institute of ZoologyPoznań University of Life SciencePoznańPoland

Personalised recommendations