Wild great and blue tits do not avoid chemical cues of predators when selecting cavities for roosting

Luisa Amo, Gustavo Tomás, Irene Saavedra, Marcel E. Visser

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Abstract

Small birds use cavities for roosting to decrease the thermoregulatory costs during the winter nights. The ability of birds to detect and escape from an approaching predator is impaired during roosting and thus the selection of such cavities should take into account the risk that a predator will find the cavity. Previous evidence suggested that birds in captivity are able to detect predator scent and avoid roosting in nest-boxes containing such predator chemical cues. Here, we tested whether birds also show this avoidance response under natural conditions. We performed three studies in three populations of blue and great tits. We added predator scent, a pungency scent or an odourless control to nest-boxes and compared the use of these nest-boxes for roosting. We found no differences between the scent treatments in the use of nest-boxes. Therefore, chemical cues indicating the potential presence of a predator are not enough for birds to avoid roosting in nest-boxes under natural conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0203269
JournalPLoS One
Volume13
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2018

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Keywords

  • international

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