Does Egg Coloration Signal Female Quality to House Wren Males (Troglodytes aedon)?

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The Ohio State University

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This experiment sought to clarify a possible correlation between the coloration of female house wren, Troglodytes aedon, eggs and an increase in male provisioning. To provide an adequate measure of female quality, information on the female's mass, wing length, laying date, clutch size, and overall brightness of the egg measured using a portable spectrophotometer) was gathered. Male house wrens feeding rates were also recorded on days 4 and 10 after the first nestling had hatched in order to determine if egg brightness increased their provisioning. A total of 45 nests, along with 139 eggs were sampled in 3 separate locations in northwest Ohio. No relationship was found between the brightness of the egg and the mass and/or wing length of the female house wren. The color of the egg did vary with female laying date but this did not have any correlation with female morphology. However, egg brightness did decline with later laying dates. The feeding rate of male house wrens revealed no significant relationship after controlling for laying date and clutch size. This research provides evidence that female house wren quality does not influence egg brightness or greater male investments.


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House Wren, male provisioning, egg color, female quality