How many kilojoules does a Black-billed Magpie nest cost?

Journal of Field Ornithology



Energetic costs of nest construction are difficult to estimate for birds, and currently estimates are available for only a handful of species. In this paper, I estimate the minimum cost of nest construction by a pair of Black-billed Magpies (Pica hudsonia). Data on the number of sticks and mud pellets comprising a nest were used to determine the minimum number of trips required to construct the nest, and were combined with information on distances to the nearest sources of nesting materials, data on flight speeds, and bird morphometric measures to estimate costs of transporting nesting materials. For the Black-billed Magpie pair I observed, nest construction required a minimum of 2564 trips for nesting materials, 276.2 km of commuting, 8.4 h of flight, and cost 209.1 kJ. Spreading this cost over the 40 d required to build the nest yields an estimate of 2.61 kJ/adult/day. I compared this value to published estimates of daily metabolizable energy intake for Black-billed Magpies, and calculated that breeding adults would need to increase their daily intake between 0.7% and 1.0% to cover the energetic costs of nest construction. In contrast, egg laying is estimated to require a full 23% of the daily energy expenditure of female magpies. These values suggest the energetic cost of nest building in Black-billed Magpies is relatively insignificant.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title How many kilojoules does a Black-billed Magpie nest cost?
Series title Journal of Field Ornithology
DOI 10.1648/0273-8570-73.3.292
Volume 73
Issue 3
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher Association of Field Ornithologists
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 6 p.
First page 292
Last page 297
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details