Here we present the recording of body mass change and weight loss during incubation in a Common Eider Somateria mollissima colony at Christiansø in the Central Baltic (55°19'N 15°11'E). The study was conducted during April and May 2015 and a total number of four birds were followed (two were lost due to predation and three due to power outages). Body mass and nesting behaviour was recorded electronically over a period of 26-27 days using automatic poultry scales and a surveillance video camera. During incubation, the eiders underwent a 28-37% loss in body mass and left the nest on average 13 times (range: 7-17 times) for a period of 7-70 min. In general, birds with high initial body mass left their nest for a shorter total time than birds with lower initial body mass. The recorded daily changes in body mass indicate that the eiders foraged during the incubation period, not just leaving the nest for rehydration or in response to disturbance, which improve our current understanding of eider incubation behaviour. Such information is important to fully understanding of eider breeding biology in order to better conserve and manage the species during its breeding seasons where individual birds undergo extreme stress that may affect reproductive outcome and adult survival.

camera, feeding, foraging, hydrating, nest, recess behaviour
Department of Biology

Garbus, S.-E. (Svend-Erik), Lyngs, P. (Peter), Garbus, M. (Mathias), Garbus, P. (Pelle), Eulaers, I. (Igor), Mosbech, A. (Anders), … Sonne, C. (Christian). (2018). Incubation Behaviour of Common Eiders Somateria Mollissima in the Central Baltic: Nest Attendance and Loss in Body Mass. Acrocephalus, 39(178-179), 91–100. doi:10.1515/acro-2018-0008