Bird populations -- United States, Avian biology
We describe the breeding biology of Brown Thrashers (Toxostoma rufum) in Kansas, and combine this with data from other temperate-zone breeding Mimidae to characterize reproductive patterns in this group. Brown Thrashers produced clutches of 3 to 6 eggs, but clutches of 4 predominated. Most pairs raised 2 broods per year. Incubation required between 13 and 14 days, and hatching was usually asynchronous. Though sample size was small, asynchrony appeared to increase in frequency towards the end of the breeding season. Nestlings grew rapidly, and in 10 days or less most pre-fledgingg rowthw as completed. Young fledgedn ormallya t 11 days of age at 65% of aduli weight, but with the tarsi near adult size. Nestlings starved in 27% of nests, but predators were responsible for most nest failures. Overall nest success was 43%. Brown Thrashers are typical of other temperate-zone mimids. Modal clutch sizes are of either 3 or 4 eggs and all species are multi-brooded. Mimids from the southwestern United States and Mexico lay normally 3 egg clutches, but elsewhere 4 eggs are most common. Incubation length and nestling growth rate vary significantly with adult weight, but on average, incubation is 3 days shorter and nestlings grow 36% faster than predicted. Relative incubation length and relative fledging weight both declined significantly with adult weight, whereas daily nest mortality rate increased significantly with adult size. Although our data are consistent with the hypothesis that heavy nest predation has favored rapid nestling growth and completion of development outside of the nest, rapid growth may also function in brood reduction. Present data are insufficient to exclude conclusively either factor in the evolution of rapid development in mimids.
Murphy, M. T., & Fleischer, R. C. (1986). Body size, nest predation, and reproductive patterns in Brown Thrashers and other mimids. Condor, 446-455.