THE TIMING OF BIRDS‘ BREEDING SEASONS
Summary Examination of survival rdtes of nestlings and fledglings of some species show that there is a strong tendency for those young which are hatched earliest in the season to have the greatest chance of surviving to breed. Since natural selection so strongly favours parents who leave many surviving young, the question arises as to why other birds breed later than the date at which they could most successfully raise their young. It is suggested that the food supply for the breeding females immediately prior to the breeding season may limit their ability to form eggs and the females may thus not be able to lay at the time which would result in young being in the nest at the best time for raising them, but as soon after this time as the female is able to produce her eggs. Not all species are likely to be prevented, by food shortage, from breeding at the best time for raising young and the groups of birds most likely to be affected are discussed.