Breeding ecology of a burrow-nesting passerine, the white-rumped snowfinch Montifringilla taczanowskii

Authors: Xianhai ZENG and Xin LU


Published: Volume 56(2), December 2009. Pages 173-187.

Language: English

Keywords: alpine meadow, cavity-nesting, life history, Montifringilla taczanowskii, reproduction and Tibetanplateau.


This work provides reproductive data about the white-rumped snowfinch Montifringilla taczanowskii and learn how avian life history respond to cavity-nesting and altitudinal gradients. The study was carried out in an alpine meadow in the northeastern Tibetan plateau, in Gahai National Nature Reserve (34° 14' N, 102° 20' E). During two breeding seasons individuals were marked and their nests contents were monitored. Nests were placed in pika Ochotona curzionae burrows and constructed by females only. Egglaying occurred between late April and early June. Some pairs (9 %) made two breeding attempts in a single year. Clutch size averaged 4.7 (2 - 6) and brood size at fledgling average was 3.5 (2 - 6). Females incubation lasts 9 to 15 days (13) and both sexes provide parental care until nestlings fledged at 18 to 24 days (21). Overall, 69 % of the nesting attempts produced at least one fledgling. The habit of cavity-nesting might allow the snowfinches to start breeding earlier, produce larger clutches, reduce nest attentiveness and enjoy a higher reproductive success than several local open-nesting passerines. Compared to their higher-altitude conspecifics, the lower-altitude snowfinches reach a greater annual productivity mainly through rearing larger broods.

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