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Torpor in an African caprimulgid, the freckled nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma

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Recent data suggest that facultative hypothermic responses such as torpor are more important in the energy balance of birds from tropical and sub-tropical regions than previously thought. We used telemetric measurements of skin temperature (Tskin) for five individuals on 151 bird-nights to investigate the occurrence of torpor during winter in an 81 g African caprimulgid, the freckled nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma. We found that freckled nightjars have the capacity to enter torpor, with a minimum observed Tskin of 12.8°C. During the torpor bouts we observed, complete rewarming typically occurred after sunrise, and coincided with the availability of solar radiation. There was considerable inter-individual variability in the frequency and depth of torpor bouts, with one female nightjar exhibiting particularly frequent and deep torpor. Our results confirm the ability to use torpor by a nocturnal aerial insectivore from the Afrotropics, and reiterate the variability in patterns of torpor that can exist within a population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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