Mutual ornamentation and the parental behaviour of male and female Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis during incubation

Dóra Kötél, Miklós Laczi, J. Török, G. Hegyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


One of the benefits of mate choice based on sexually selected traits is the greater investment of more ornamented individuals in parental care. The choosy individual can also adjust its parental investment to the sexual signals of its partner. Incubation is an important stage of avian reproduction, but the relationship between behaviour during incubation and mutual ornamentation is unclear. Studying a population of Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis, we monitored the behaviour of both sexes during incubation in relation to their own and their partner's plumage traits, including plumage-level reflectance attributes and white patch sizes. There was a marginally positive relationship between male feeding rate during incubation and female incubation rate. Female but not male behavioural traits were associated with the laying date of the first egg and clutch size. The behaviour of the two sexes jointly determined the relative hatching speed of clutches and the hatching success of eggs. Females with larger white wing patches spent less time incubating eggs and left the nestbox more frequently. Males with larger white wing patches fed females less frequently, whereas males with brighter white plumage areas visited the nestbox more regularly without feeding. Females tended to leave the nest less often when mated to males with larger wing patches, and females spent less time incubating when males had more UV chromatic plumage. The behaviour of both partners during incubation therefore predicted hatching patterns and was correlated with their own and sometimes with their partner's plumage ornamentation. These results call for further studies of mutual ornamentation and reproductive effort during incubation.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Ficedula albicollis
  • Incubation feeding
  • Parental care
  • Patch size
  • Plumage reflectance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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