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Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 27–33 | Cite as

Factors affecting the breeding success of the grey heron (Ardea cinerea) in northern Poland

  • Dariusz Jakubas
Original Article

Abstract

The aim of this study was to estimate the importance of factors affecting the breeding success of the grey heron (Ardea cinerea) in three colonies in the northern Poland (Mosty, Kiersity and Kąty Rybackie), differentiated in population size, habitat type and feeding areas used by birds. The highest mean number of fledglings (39–51 days old) per nest in 2000–2002 combined was recorded at Kąty Rybackie (3.2±0.91 SD). Lower values were recorded at Kiersity (2.5±1.11) and Mosty (2.8±1.20). Breeding success increased with the size of the heronry (r7=0.77, P<0.05) and was the highest in the biggest, at Kąty Rybackie (716–879 nests). In the studied colonies, the number of feeding visits was the most important factor affecting breeding success. At Kąty Rybackie and Kiersity, chick mortality significantly decreased with increasing numbers of feeding visits per nest. The highest breeding success was recorded in the colonies with feeding areas situated nearby (Kąty Rybackie and Mosty). Siblicide was also a very important reason of chick mortality in those colonies (54% and 32% chicks died in nests where sibling aggression was observed). Other factors, independent of the level of feeding, like predation, human disturbance, weather condition and experience of parent birds, seem to be of negligible importance.

Keywords

Breeding success Chick mortality Colony size Number of feeding visits Siblicide 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Prof. L. Stempniewicz for critical comments on the first version of the manuscript. This project was supported by grants of the State Committee for Scientific Researches (6 PO4G 030 18) and University of Gdańsk (BW 1140–5-005–0).

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V.  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Vertebrate Ecology and ZoologyUniversity of GdańskGdańskPoland

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