Evidence for the Effect of Learning on Timing of Reproduction in Blue Tits

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Science  05 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5565, pp. 136-138
DOI: 10.1126/science.1068287

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We experimentally show that in blue tits (Parus caeruleus) egg-laying date is causally linked to experience in the previous year. Females that received additional food in the nestling period in one year laid eggs later in the next year compared with the control birds, whatever the degree of synchronization with the natural food abundance in the previous year. As a result, they raised their brood much later than the peak period of nestling food availability in the next year. The response to experience is adaptive for blue tits, which live in heterogeneous habitats where the peak period of food varies, but once settled will breed at the same location for life.

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