Nest Parasitism, Productivity, and Clutch Size in Purple Martins

Science  22 May 1970:
Vol. 168, Issue 3934, pp. 1000-1003
DOI: 10.1126/science.168.3934.1000


Mean maximum nestling weight of purple martins decreased with increase in brood size from three to five. Martins in the absence of acarine nest parasites produced young heavier than parasitized young of the same brood size; in addition, unparasitized nestlings tended to reach a maximum weight equivalent to that of young in parasitized broods of one less member. Modal brood size for parasitized and unparasitized martins was four, but there was a significant trend toward production of broods of five by mite-free birds, and of broods of three by parasitized parents. This suggests a potentially important role for nest parasitism in the determination of clutch size in martins and other birds.