Avian Coloniality

Progress and Problems
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 16)


Avian social systems during the breeding season can be classified into three major types: territorial, cooperative or communal, and colonial. This classification is based on the degree of conspecific association in use of space, and some species may exhibit more than one type within or between populations. Coloniality in birds is typically defined as the breeding by a number of individuals at a more or less centralized place from which colony residents regularly depart for search for food (SiegelCausey and Kharitonov, 1990; Wittenberger and Hunt, 1985). Colonial nesting is the least understood of all avian breeding systems; it is even difficult to define what constitutes a colony for some species. What causes sometimes thousands of mostly unrelated individuals to nest in a single, spatially restricted site where the penalties of close crowding can often diminish reproductive success? Why do colonies of the same species within the same population often vary by several orders of magnitude in size? These deceptively simple questions have frustrated ornithologists for decades.


Reproductive Success Colony Size Brood Parasitism Barn Swallow Colony Site 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of TulsaTulsaUSA

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