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Determinate Laying and Egg Attendance in Common Eiders

C. Swennen, J. C. H. Ursem and P. Duiven
Ornis Scandinavica (Scandinavian Journal of Ornithology)
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1993), pp. 48-52
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3676409
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3676409
Page Count: 5
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Determinate Laying and Egg Attendance in Common Eiders
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Abstract

Egg laying, egg attendance by females, and egg loss were studied in the Common Eider Somateria mollissima. Clutch size fixation appeared to occur before the first egg was laid (determinate laying). Intervals between the laying of eggs were usually about 24 h. Permanent egg attendance started before clutch completion (4 to 6 eggs), usually from the second egg on, and was independent of the actual number of eggs in the nest and final clutch size. Egg loss during inattentive periods was 80 times higher than during attendance. Spontaneous breaks in incubation occurred at intervals of 1-3 days, but sometimes a female left 2 or 3 times a day. Breaks were used for drinking and lasted between a few min and 2.5 h. Females left most frequently in the first few hours after sunset. The ducklings hatched nearly synchronously except the last egg, which hatched on average 8 h later than the others. Early egg attendance, fasting during incubation, and leaves during night hours will have evolved for clutch protection.

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