Individual variation in winter foraging of black-capped chickadees

J. Van Buskirk, D. C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Wintering black-capped chickadees (Paridae: Parus atricapillus) in northwestern Massachusetts showed a high degree of individual variation in foraging behavior. After accounting for the effects of different habitats and weather conditions, individual differences comprised 6-17% of the total observed variation in four measures of foraging location and rate of feeding. Differences between age and sex groups were not significant and explained comparatively little variation (0.0-1.4%). The chickadees did not fall into a few distinct behavioral categories but instead showed continuous variation on all measures of foraging behavior. It appeared that some variation among individuals was a consequence of behavioral convergence within social groups, since birds that were observed together were more similar in their foraging than expected by chance, after taking habitat differences into account. Our results therefore do not support the interpretation that individual variation in feeding behavior serves to reduce exploitation competition within social groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-263
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Individual variation in winter foraging of black-capped chickadees'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this