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Life-history of two African Sylvia warblers: low annual fecundity and long post-fledging care

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The investigation of factors that cause differences in life-history traits between temperate and tropical birds is often hampered by a lack of knowledge about tropical species. Even within the well-known warblers of the genus Sylvia, which include resident species from temperate and tropical regions as well as migrants, there are few data from tropical species. We investigated the breeding biology of the tropical species Sylvia lugens and S. boehmi in a 2-year study in Kenya. Both species had a clutch size of 2.0 and laid c. 3.7 clutches per year. Breeding was characterized by long incubation periods (S. lugens 14.5 days, S. boehmi 15.0 days), long nestling periods (16.0 and 12.9 days, respectively) and high predation rates (Mayfield nest success S. lugens 33.2%, S. boehmi 19.4%). Annual fecundity was 2.3 fledglings in S. lugens and 1.4 fledglings in S. boehmi. After fledging, the young birds were fed for 37.5 days (S. lugens) and 58.5 days (S. boehmi) (time to independence) and they stayed in their parents’ territory for days or weeks, even after feeding had stopped. Fledgling survival until independence was 55.4% in S. lugens and 69.2% in S. boehmi. In general, S. lugens and S. boehmi have smaller but more numerous clutches, longer developmental periods, higher nest predation rates, lower annual fecundity and longer post-fledging care than their temperate congenerics.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: National Museums of Kenya, Department of Ornithology, Nairobi, Kenya

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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