Clutch size and breeding success of great tit (Parus major) and blue tit (P. caeruleus) in the parks of Kharkiv city

  • A. B. Chaplygina G.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University
  • D. I. Bondarets G.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University
  • N. Savynskaya G.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Kharkiv
Keywords: great tit, blue tit, clutch size, breeding success, urbanized landscape


The analysis of clutch size and breeding success of great tits and blue tits is conducted using 115 nests: 92 great tits and 23 blue tits. Nest boxes for small passerine birds were made in 2009–2013 and placed in the city parks in order to improve their ecological condition. Thus, the experimental plots were established in the Central park of culture and recreation named after M. Gorky in the number of 37 nest boxes in the area of about 5 ha; in the territory of Zhuravlevskiy hydropark in the amount of 30 units on two sites on each of 4 ha and 20 units on an area of 2 ha. 20 nest boxes were placed in the forest park along the central motorway of the city. All the nest boxes were placed by the group method (distance between nest boxes was about 10–15 m) at height to 3 m, and entrance diameter of 3 cm. The front wall in such nest boxes is taken out, thus facilitating their further verification carried out during the period from the first ten-day period of April till the second ten-day period of July up to ten times. It was shown that the average size of the full clutch for great tits amounted to 8.9 ± 0.35 (n = 61) and for blue tits 9.5 ± 0.33 (n = 12). The great tits has the largest proportion of 10 (33.5%) and 9 eggs (16.7%) in the clutch. For the blue tits the dominating figure was 10 egg (25.0%) in the clutch of Zhuravlevskiy hydropark and 12 eggs (17.5%) in the clutch in the Gorky park. We determined high success of reproduction for great tits (85.1%) and blue tits (84.0%). On average, per one pair of great tits and blue tits 5.1 ± 0.16 and 8.5 ± 0.38 chicks, respectively, flied the nests. The decreased parameter in breeding success during the existence of an artificial population of great tits was revealed. For example, in Zhuravlevskiy hydropark on average 6.7 ± 0.12 chicks per pair flied the nests during the year of placing the nest boxes. During four years, this value decreased almost by half and amounted to 3.6 ± 0.15 (P < 0.05). For blue tits this dependence was not found. The most productive clutches for great tits were clutches of the third ten-day period in April (89.7%), which on average amounted to 8,9 ± 0.78 chicks per pair. The most successful were ten egg clutches. Share of takeoff chicks amounted to 98.3%, which on average amounted to 9.8 ± 0,18 chicks per pair. 


Barber, J.R., Crooks, K.R., Fristrup, K.M., 2009. The costs of chronic noise exposure for terrestrial organisms. Trends Ecol. Evol. 25, 180–189. >> doi:10.1016/j.tree.2009.08.002

Becker, P.H., Erdelen, M., 1982. Distridution of herring gull egg size and nest density in the mellum-colony in relation to vegetation hight. Moscow, Abst. of Symposia and Poster Presentation.

Bekir, K., Tamer, A., 2012. Offspring sex ratios and breeding success of a population of the great tit, Parus major. Zool. Middle East 57, 27–34.

Bobyliov, Y.P., Brygadyrenko, V.V., Bulakhov, V.L., Gaichenko, V.A., Gasso, V.Y., Didukh, Y.P., Ivashov, A.V., Kucheriavyi, V.P., Maliovanyi, M.S., Mytsyk, L.P., Pakhomov, O.Y., Tsaryk, I.V., Shabanov, D.A., 2014. Ecology. Folio, Kharkiv (in Ukrainian).

Broyer, J., 2009. Whibchat Saxicola rubetra reproductive success according to hay cutting schedule and meadow passerine density in alluvial and upland meadows in France. J. Nat. Conserv. 17, 160–167.

Brumm, H., Slabbekoorn, H., 2005. Acoustic communication in noise. Adv. Stud. Behav. 35, 151–209.

Bucur, V., 2006. Urban forest acoustics. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Catchpole, C.K., Slater, P.J.B., 2008. Bird song: Biological themes and variations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Cauchard, L., Boogert, N.J., Lefebvre, L., Dubois, F., Doligez, B., 2013. Problem-solving performance is correlated with reproductive success in a wild bird population. Anim. Behav. 85, 19–26.

Dias, P.C., Blondel, J., 1996. Breeding time, food supply and fitness components of blue tits Parus caeruleus in Mediterranean habitats. Ibis 138, 644–649.

Dnondt, A., Adriaensen, F., Matthysen, E., Kempenaers, B., 1990. Nonadaptive clutch sizes in tits. Nature 348, 723–725.

Francis, C.D., Ortega, C.P., Cruz, A., 2009. Cumulative consequences of noise pollution: Noise changes avian communities and species interactions. Curr. Biol. 19, 1415–1419.

Halfwerk, W.A., Slabbekoorn, H., 2009. A behavioural mechanism explaining noise-dependent frequency use in urban bird-song. Anim. Behav. 78, 1301–1307.

Holveck, M.J., Riebel, K., 2009. Low-quality females prefer low-quality males when choosing a mate. Proc. R. Soc. (Biol.) 277, 153–160.

Howe, H.F., 1978. Initial investment, clutch size? And brood reduction in the common grackle. Ecology 59, 1109–1122.

Koivula, K., Orell, M., Rytkönen, S., 1996. Winter survival and breeding success of dominant and subordinate willow tits Parus montanus. Ibis 138, 624–629. >> DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1996.tb04763.x

Kunz, E., 2000. Genetic and environmental components of growth in nestling blue tits (Parus caeruleus). J. Evol. Biol. 13, 199–212.

Lambrechts, M.M., Aime, C., Midamegbe, A., Galan, M.J., Perret, P., Gregoire, A., Doutrelant, C., 2012. Nest size and breeding success in first and replacement clutches: An experimental study in blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus. J. Ornithol. 153, 173–179.

Leonard, M.L., Horn, A.G., 2008. Does ambient noise affect growth and begging call structure in nestling birds? Behav. Ecol. 19, 502–507.

Lloyd, C.S., 1979. Factors affecting breeding of razorbills Alca torda on Skokholm. Ibis 121, 165–176. >> doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1979.tb04959.x

Makarewicz, R., Kokowski, P., 2007. Prediction of noise changes due to traffic speed control. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 122, 2074–2081.

Matveev, M.D., 1998. Ptahy rodyny synycevi (Paridae) v umovah Podillja (struktura populjacij, biologija rozmnozhennja, mizhvydovi zv’jazky) [The birds of family tits (Paridae) under conditions of Podolia (structure of populations, peculiarities of reproduction, species relations)]. Avtoreferat of dissertation for the degree of candidate of biological sciences: 03.00.08, Zoology. Kyiv (in Ukrainian).

Newell, F.L., Rodewald, A.D., 2011. Role of topography, canopy structure, and floristics in nest-site selection and nesting success of canopy songbirds. Forest Ecol. Manag. 262, 739–749.

Orell, M., Rytkönen, S., Koivula, K., 1994. Causes of divorce in the monogamous willow tit, Parus montanus, and consequences for reproductive success. Anim. Behav. 48, 1143–1154.

Orell, M., Ojanen, M., 1983. Effect of habitat, date of laying and density on clutch size of the great tit Parus major in northern Finland. Ecography 6, 413–423.

Ouyang, J.Q., Sharp, P., Quetting, M., Hau, M., 2013. Endocrine phenotype, reproductive success and survival in the great tit, Parus major. J. Evol. Biol. 26, 1988–1998.

Padgham, M., 2004. Reverberation and frequency attenuation in forests – implications for acoustic communication in animals. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 115, 402–410.

Paevsky, V.A., 1985. Demografija ptic [Demography of birds]. Nauka, Leningrad (in Russian).

Pohl, N.U., Slabbekoorn, H., Klump, G.M., Langemann, U., 2009. Effects of signal features and environmental noise on signal detection in the great tit, Parus major. Anim. Behav. 78, 1293–1300.

Quinn, J.L., Whittingham, M.J., Butler, S.J., Cresswell, W., 2006. Noise, predation risk compensation and vigilance in the chaffinch Fringilla coelebs. J. Avian Biol. 37, 601–608.

Sanz, J.J., 2002. Climate change and breeding parameters of great and blue tits throughout the western Palaearctic. Global Change Biol. 8, 409–422.

Schaub, A., Ostwald, J., Siemers, B.M., 2008. Foraging bats avoid noise. J. Exp. Biol. 211, 3174–3180.

Slabbekoorn, H., Halfwerk, W., 2009. Behavioural ecology: Noise annoys at community level. Curr. Biol. 19, 693–695.

Slabbekoorn, H., Ripmeester, E.A.P., 2008. Birdsong and anthropogenic noise: Implications and applications for conservation. Mol. Ecol. 17, 72–83.

Tomiuk, J., Stauss, M., Segelbacher, G., Fietz, J., Kömpf, J., Bachmann, L., 2007. Female genetic heterogeneity affects the reproduction of great tits (Parus major L., 1758) in low-quality woodlands. J. Zool. Sys. Evol. Res. 45, 144–150.

Warren, P.S., Katti, M., Ermann, M., Brazel, A., 2006. Urban bioacoustics: It’s not just noise. Anim. Behav. 71, 491–502.


Most read articles by the same author(s)