A preliminary study of the winter roosting behaviour of four woodland passerines

O'Connell, Mark ORCID: 0000-0003-3402-8880 (2023) A preliminary study of the winter roosting behaviour of four woodland passerines. Bird Study, 7 (4). pp. 243-250. doi:10.1080/00063657.2023.2269329

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Capsule: Radio-tracking of four woodland passerine species reveals variation in winter roost site selection within and between species. Aims: To evaluate methods for studying winter roosting behaviour in woodland passerines and to collect preliminary data on intra- and inter-specific differences in roost site characteristics and spatial arrangement. Methods: Ten woodland birds (three Eurasian Blackbirds Turdus merula, three Dunnocks Prunella modularis, two Great Tits Parus majorand two European Robins Erithacus rubecula), were fitted with a tail-mounted Lotek PicoPip AG337 VHF radio tag (January to March 2022). Tagged birds were located by triangulation, and nightly winter roost locations identified and characterized. Ageographic information system was used to quantify roost site fidelity, roosting height and types of habitats used. Results: Manual tracking of birds with radio tags is a cost effective and appropriate method for studying passerine winter roosting behaviour. Sample sizes were too small to allow exploration of significant differences between sites, age and sex. European Robins showed the greatest site fidelity in relation to between-night roost positions, with Eurasian Blackbird, Great Tit and Dunnock being more variable in the sites chosen between nights. Eurasian Blackbird and Great Titroost sites were generally higher above the ground (up to 6 m), compared to European Robins and Dunnocks (all sites less than 4 m above the ground). Eurasian Blackbirds varied the most in the number of habitats used for roost sites, and European Robins showed the least variation. Only three out of 11 habitat types (bramble Rubus sp, laurel Prunus sp. and Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus with Ivy Hedera helix) were used by more than one species as a roosting habitat. Conclusion: Further research should focus on: (1) habitat use in relation to relative availability; (2) increasing samples sizes to allow comparison of factors such as age, sex and sites; (3) the impactof supplementary feeding on roosting behaviour; (4) quantifying the thermal properties of roost sites.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Woodland birds; Radio tracking; Winter roosting behavior
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL605 Chordates. Vertebrates > QL671-699 Birds
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Anna Kerr
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2023 10:17
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2023 11:15
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/13339

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