Reviews of hatching asynchrony in birds recommended more studies on intraspecific variation in the extent of hatching asynchrony. We examined intraspecific variation in clutch size, laying chronology, onset of incubation, incubation period, and hatching asynchrony in burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) in the Imperial Valley of California. Mean clutch size was 7.4 eggs and owls averaged 0.5 eggs laid per day. Females varied considerably in laying interval and onset of incubation (range = 1st to 9th egg in the clutch). The mean incubation period was 21.9 days. Hatching interval also varied greatly among females (x = 0.8, range 0.1-2.0 days between successively hatched eggs). Past burrowing owl studies have largely overlooked the substantial intraspecific variation in these traits or have reported estimates that differ from ours. Future studies designed to identify the environmental factors that explain the large intraspecific variation in these traits will likely provide insights into the constraints on local abundance.
Additional Publication Details
Intraspecific variation in reproductive traits of burrowing owls
Journal of Ethology
Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit