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Individual study: Supplementary feeding increases reproductive success in stitchbirds Notiomystis cincta on a lake island in New Zealand

Published source details

Castro I., Brunton D.H., Mason K.M., Ebert B. & Griffiths R. (2003) Life history traits and food supplementation affect productivity in a translocated population of the endangered Hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta). Biological Conservation, 114, 271-280


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Provide supplementary food for songbirds to increase reproductive success Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled trial on an island in Lake Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand, between September 1995 and February 2001 (Castro et al. 2003), found that stitchbirds (hihis) Notiomystis cincta in territories provided with supplementary food laid significantly more eggs and had higher fledging  and recruitment success than control (unsupplemented) birds (average of 4.4 eggs/clutch for 17 fed nests vs. 3.9 eggs/clutch for 18 controls; 70% fledging success for 22 fed nests vs. 32% for 14 controls and 35% recruitment success for 16 fed nests vs. 13% for 13 controls). In addition, fed females began laying second clutches significantly sooner than controls and incubated second clutches for significantly less time (15.2 days of incubation for eight fed clutches, and a 4.0 day interval before four second clutches vs. 16.8 days incubation for eight controls and a 13.3 day interval for six). There were no significant differences in hatching success or the incubation period of first clutches, between fed and control birds. Supplementary food consisted of either commercial honeyeater food (provided every day) or a solution of sugar or jam (provided every third day) in hummingbird feeders. Territories were considered ‘fed’ if nests were within 50 m of a feeder. The authors suggest that population viability on Mokoia Island may be dependent on supplementary food.