Perching of Tengmalm's Owl (Aegolius funereus) Nestlings at the Nest Box Entrance: Effect of Time of the Day, Age, Wing Length and Body Weight
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The behaviour of the nestlings of nocturnal cavity-nesting species has relatively rarely been studied in detail because of problems connected with use of the technical devices required to provide long-term monitoring of individuals. However, long-term observation of nestling behaviour is crucial in order to identify different types of behaviour which may be caused by sibling competition at the end of nesting period. We studied behaviour of 43 Tengmalm’s owl (Aegolius funereus) nestlings at 14 nests using a camera and a chip system. The nestlings perched at the nest box entrance from an average age of 28 days from hatching (range 24–34 days) until fledging, spending around 2 hours per day here in total, in periods ranging from a few seconds to 147 min (7.6±10.9 min, mean ± SD). We found that individual duration of perching at the nest box entrance was significantly influenced by nestlings’ age and wing length and that the duration of perching at the nest box entrance significantly decreased with time of night. However, during daylight hours, time of day had no effect on either probability or duration of nestlings’ perching. We suggest daylight perching at the nest box entrance results from nestlings’ preparation for fledging, while individuals perching here during the night may gain an advantageous position for obtaining food from the parents; another possibility at all times of day is that nestlings can reaffirm their social dominance status by monopolizing the nest box entrance.
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