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Molting females of Monteiro's Hornbills (Tockus monteiri) seal themselves in nest cavities to breed until chicks are about half grown. To gain insight into the chronology of energy requirements of the Monteiro's Hornbill family unit in relation to this peculiar breeding strategy, we measured a number of ecological, physiological, and environmental variables during the Monteiro's Hornbill's breeding season. Those measurements included rates of energy expenditure of female Monteiro's Hornbills while in the nest cavity, characterizing their thermal environment, timing of egg laying, molt, hatching and fledging of chicks, as well as measuring clutch size and chick growth. Temperatures within the nest box varied between 12 and 39°C and did not affect the female energy expenditure. Female body mass and energy expenditure averaged 319 g and 5 W, respectively, at the start of concealment and decreased by on average 1.1 g day-1 and 0.05 W day-1 during at least the first 30 days of the 52–58 day concealment period. Clutch size varied between 1 and 8 and averaged 4.1 eggs, with eggs averaging only 66% of the mass predicted for a bird of this size. Over the range of chick ages at which the female might leave the nest, the predicted energy requirements for maintenance and tissue growth for a Monteiro's Hornbill chick increase sharply from 1.2 W at age 8 to 3.0 W at age 25. Reduction of the female energy requirement with time, the relatively low growth rate and therewith low energy requirements of Monteiro's Hornbill chicks, and an appropriate timing of the female's exodus from the nest cavity all aid in containing peak energy demands to levels that are sustainable for the food provisioning male
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-873
JournalThe Auk
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

ID: 275613