Pairformation

When the female arrives in spring she starts lo build in some of the nest boxes which the male has guarded. She is enticed by his song and by the white band on his forehead. Nest building begins very soon after, provided a period of cold or rainy weather docs not set in because this may suppress the initial burst of building.

At the start of the breeding period, the male is influenced by three tendencies: to pair, to fight, and to escape. The pairing tendency is directed towards females and the other two towards males. Sometimes his attacking tendency is directed at the female and he will show his aggression with a gaping beak and splayed wings. This is subsequently replaced by a less aggressive attitude, the male presumably becoming accustomed to the female. Finally, he will begin to court her and they will mate.

Polygamy occurs frequently amongst pied flycatchers. I observed this in 1964 and within the area studied there was an excess of females and polygamy occurred in three nest boxes (in recent years there has been a dcficit of females). At one nest box, for example, a male sat and sang, eventually enticing a female to the territory. When the female began to build a nest, the male flew about 8 10 m away, sang from another nest box and thus attracted a new female. When the second female was building her nest and laying eggs, the first was hatching out her eggs, at which time the male returned and helped out with feeding the young. The female in the second box had to feed her young alone, but she did so successfully, producing five young, compared with the six of the first female.

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