Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 129–135 | Cite as

Behavioral strategies of American kestrels during mate replacement

  • Reed Bowman
  • David M. Bird


To determine the influence of mate replacement on the behavior and reproductive success of wild American kestrels (Falco sparverius) we removed 4 female and 16 male members of breeding pairs during incubation in 1983 and 1984. Eight males and 1 female were replaced within a mean time of 43 h. Widowed females that received a replacement spent less time hunting, but incubated and performed aerial displays more frequently than females that did not receive a replacement. After replacement, widowed females continued to incubate the original clutch, yet copulated and performed other courtship behaviors with the incoming male. Overlapping of normal temporally separate behavioral cues may be a female strategy to gain assistance from a replacement mate. However, none of the original clutches was successfully hatched. Of 8 pairs with replacement males, 2 pairs abandoned their territory, two remained on territory but did not renest, and 4 renested within a mean interval of 18 days. The lone female replacement and her mate copulated and performed nest inspections but then abandoned the territory. Incubation behavior was similar between replacement and control pairs; however, replacement males fed more invertebrate prey to nestling and made many more nest visits. All 3 replacement nests that hatched young failed within 8 days.


Reproductive Success Mate Replacement Behavioral Strategy Courtship Behavior Replacement Nest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reed Bowman
    • 1
  • David M. Bird
    • 1
  1. 1.Macdonald Raptor Research CentreMacdonald College of McGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada

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