Asymmetric seasonal nest site competition between Great Tits and House Sparrows

Motti Charter, Yossi Leshem, Ido Izhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using nest boxes with different sized entrances, we experimentally examined whether a large species of cavity breeder (House Sparrow, Passer domesticus) affects the nest box occupancy and breeding success of a smaller species (Great Tit, Parus major), and whether there are differences in the effects of competition during different parts of the breeding season. Great Tits occupied nest boxes regardless of the number of House Sparrows breeding in the vicinity. During the second part of the breeding season, the percentage of successful Great Tit pairs was negatively correlated with the occupation of nest boxes by the House Sparrows, in both the large- and small-entrance nest boxes. More Great Tit pairs bred and more young were fledged in the small- than large-entrance nest boxes. Great Tits occupied more large-entrance nest boxes during the first than the second part of the breeding season. This difference was probably due to House Sparrows occupying more large-entrance nest boxes during the second than first part of the breeding season. 74 % of the large-entrance nest boxes in which Great Tits built nests in both the first and second parts of the season were later occupied by House Sparrows. Great Tits preferred large-entrance nest boxes in the fall, when House Sparrows use only a few boxes for roosting, but not for breeding. The findings indicate that Great Tits are subject to interspecific competition with House Sparrows for nesting cavities, the intensity of which varies during the breeding season and is higher during the second part when more House Sparrows breed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Breeding success
  • Cavity
  • Experimental study
  • Nest box

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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