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Anim Behav. 1998 Jul;56(1):227-33.

Does diurnal variation in body mass affect take-off ability in wintering willow tits?

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Department of Zoology, Stockholm University


Recently, some empirical studies have shown an effect of body mass on take-off ability in birds, supporting the theory that birds with increased fat loads face a greater predation risk. Small wintering birds accumulate fat reserves of about 10% of their fat-free body mass during the day to survive long, cold, winter nights. Theoretically, mass-dependent predation risk could be an important factor affecting their daily foraging routines. I studied the take-off ability of wintering willow tits, Parus montanus, in relation to their fat load. Willow tits were on average 7.7% heavier at dusk than at dawn but there was no measurable effect of body mass on take-off ability. The results indicate that the relatively small fat loads accumulated during a day by willow tits do not increase the risk of predation as a consequence of reduced take-off ability.


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