Uropygial gland size, feather holes and moult performance in the House SparrowPasser domesticus

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2014
Authors:G. Moreno-Rueda
Date Published:Jan-28-2014
Keywords:anti-parasitic strategies, moult speed, moult timing, plumage condition

Feather holes represent damage to the plumage of birds and are correlated with delayed moult. Uropygial gland size is negatively correlated with feather holes. Consequently, it was predicted that birds with smaller uropygial glands would have more feather holes, and that this would affect moult performance. I examined this prediction in the House Sparrow Passer domesticus. Individuals with smaller uropygial glands had more feather holes, and those with more feather holes moulted later and faster. Therefore, uropygial gland size seemed to affect moult performance via its effect on feather holes. Uropygial gland size may have a positive effect on plumage quality, through a negative effect on feather holes, and therefore on moult timing and speed.

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