Abstract. A total of 250 nestboxes were arranged in five plots in a suburban area of Budapest, Hungary (1904E, 4741N). In each plot, 25 were placed at 50 m intervals to simulate solitary breeding and 25 35 m apart to simulate colonial breeding. Length of nest building period, feeding frequency, nestling mortality, nestlings diet, productivity and parental condition were compared for colonial and solitary breeding tree sparrows Passer montanus. Parents with long nest-building periods, including the majority of first-year females, produced fewer young than parents which built over short periods. Parents fed nestlings morefrequently and nestlings had lower mortality in second than first broods; whether or not a third brood was reared was determined by the costs invested in first and second broods. Females that laid a third clutch had reared fewer young in first and second broods and were heavier than females that reared many young in two broods. Colonial birds had higher feeding frequencies, more similar diets and suffered lower nestling mortality than solitary parents for first broods, but they fed less frequently, diets were less similar, and nestling mortality was higher in second and third broods. It is suggested that colonial breeders benefited from the social stimulation of simultaneous feeding in first broods, but the advantage of synchronicity in feeding declined in second broods and the sparser breeding spacing of solitary parents was more advantageous for feeding in second and third broods. Birds that changed nest spacing between broods had fed nestlings less frequently and had higher nestling mortality before changing than birds which retained their spacing. Parents which changed from colonies to solitary nests fed more frequently with lower nestling mortality in the next brood than parents which retained colonial nests for their second (and third) brood. Solitary parents did not show such a relationship. The rearing of three broods caused higher weight loss in colonial than solitary parents.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.