Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 279–284 | Cite as

Incubation feeding in snow buntings: female manipulation or indirect male parental care?

  • Bruce E. Lyon
  • Robert D. Montgomerie


Male snow buntings regularly feed their mates on the nest during the incubation period. We removed males from 7 females at the start of incubation (Early Widows) and from 7 others when the eggs hatched (Late Widows) to experimentally assess the effects of incubation feeding on the behaviour of females and the reproductive success of both parents. Early Widows spent significantly more time off their nests than Late Widows and Controls. As a consequence, Early Widows had significantly longer incubation periods and a significantly higher proportion of them lost two or more eggs during development. There was no difference between Early and Late Widows in any index of reproductive success measured during the nestling period although significantly earlier brood reduction suggests that Early Widows were in poorer condition than Late Widows. Since both parents benefitted from incubation feeding by increased hatching success and shorter incubation periods, we conclude that this behaviour is an adaptive form of indirect parental care by males and is not the result of female manipulation.


Incubation Period Reproductive Success Parental Care Poor Condition Hatching Success 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce E. Lyon
    • 1
  • Robert D. Montgomerie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

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