Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 415–421 | Cite as

Responses of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus to conspecific brood parasitism

  • Radka Ležalová-PiálkováEmail author
  • Marcel Honza
Original Article


Conspecific brood parasitism in birds occurs when a female inserts her egg into the clutch of her own species. If successful, i.e. the parasitic egg is accepted by the host, then the host female or pair rears the offspring of the parasite. In the present study, we studied natural conspecific brood parasitism in Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus), and conducted series of the experiments with mimetic (conspecific) and non-mimetic (conspecific painted light blue) eggs to explore responses of the tested pairs towards these alien eggs. The natural parasitism rate was 10% and the probability of being parasitized significantly increased with nest density. Experimentally parasitized pairs rejected both types of experimental eggs at a similar rate: 14.3 % for mimetic and 25.5% for non-mimetic within 2 days. Non-mimetic eggs were more selectively rejected than mimetic eggs. The relationships between the probability of egg rejection (dependent variable) and predictor (independent) variables were examined by fitting generalized linear models. Contrast and intraclutch variation in ground color and spotting pattern and the volume of the egg had no significant effect on rejection behavior in either non-mimetic or mimetic eggs. However, nest density significantly positively affected rejection behavior of the Black-headed Gulls in both non-mimetic and mimetic treatments.


Black-headed Gull Egg rejection Experiment Intraspecific brood parasitism Larus ridibundus 



We thank anonymous referees for comments on the manuscript and H. Hashimi for improving of English. This research was funded by GAJU 51/2003/P-BF and MSM 6007665801 grants and was also supported by GAČR 206/05/H012. This study has been carried out under permission given to M. Honza and in accordance with the laws and ethical guidelines (008/98-M103) established in the Czech Republic.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Vertebrate Biology Academy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Faculty of Biological SciencesUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic

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