The number of provisioning visits by House Finches predicts the mass of food delivered

P. M. Nolan, A. M. Stoehr, G. E. Hill, K. J. McGraw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


One classic means of assessing variation in avian foraging success and provisioning effort, counting the number of trips to the nest, assumes that parents bring equal amounts of food during each trip. We tested this assumption in male House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) by using video cameras to record both the number of nest visits and the mass of food delivered as measured by an electronic balance. We compared the number of feeding visits and mass of food delivered at each of three stages in the nest cycle: incubation, young nestlings, and older nestlings. The number of provisioning trips was significantly correlated with the mass of food provided by a male to his mate or to their offspring during each stage of the nesting cycle. Furthermore, this correlation became stronger as the breeding cycle progressed. These observations support the assumption that, for this species and perhaps others that carry food in their crop, the number of provisioning visits to the nest is a reasonable predictor of the mass of food provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-855
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Carpodacus mexicanus
  • Electronic balance
  • Offspring provisioning
  • Parental care
  • Provisioning trips

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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