Rearing of young has long been considered the energetically most demanding phase of the avian breeding cycle. Arctic-breeding shorebirds expend large amounts of energy during breeding. Because they are too small to carry sufficient stores to sit out the incubation period, they regularly interrupt incubation to feed and still can run short of energy, particularly in species in which one adult takes care of the eggs and chicks alone (uniparental). We measured daily energy expenditure (DEE) and time budgets during incubation and chick rearing in the smallest uniparental Arctic shorebird, the Little Stint (Calidris minuta). Daily energy expenditure decreased with increasing temperature but did not differ between the incubation and chick-rearing periods. Because of the increase in potential foraging time from incubation to the chick-rearing phase, the foraging intake rate required to balance the budget dropped by two-thirds. To evaluate the effect of uniparental care on energy budgets, we also measured DEE in the Dunlin (C. alpina), a sympatric congener in which both parents incubate but the female deserts the brood after hatching. Daily energy expenditure decreased with temperature, was the same during incubation and chick rearing, and was higher in males. Our results are discussed in relation to the timing of breeding of Arctic shorebirds with different systems of parental care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Auk
Journal publication date2009

ID: 62898