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Body temperature responses of Great Tits Parus major to handling in the cold

  • Fredrik Andreasson
  • Andreas Nord
  • Jan Åke Nilsson
Publishing year: 2019
Language: English
Publication/Series: Ibis
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Animals typically respond to stressful stimuli such as handling by increasing core body temperature. However, small birds in cold environments have been found to decrease body temperature (Tb) when handled over longer periods, although there are no data extending beyond the actual handling event in such birds. We therefore measured both the initial Tb decrease during ringing and standardized Tb sampling, and subsequent recovery of Tb after this handling protocol in wild Great Tits Parus major roosting in nestboxes in winter. Birds reduced their Tb by 2.3 °C during c. 4 min of handling. When birds were returned to their nestboxes after handling, Tb decreased by a further 1.9 °C over c. 2 min, reaching a Tb of 34.6 °C before taking 20 min to rewarm to 2.5 °C above their initial Tb. The Tb reduction during handling could be a consequence of increased heat loss rate from disrupted plumage insulation, whereas Tb reduction after handling might reflect reduced heat production. These are important factors to consider when handling small birds in the cold.


  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
  • Ecology
  • Climate Research
  • heat production
  • heterothermy
  • plumage insulation
  • stress response
  • stress-induced hyperthermia


  • ISSN: 0019-1019
Andreas Nord at NHM London
E-mail: andreas [dot] nord [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Evolutionary ecology

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