Behaviour 2019
Capture and handling affects future response to playback in Bachman’s sparrow
Rindy Anderson, Joseph Niederhauser, Laura Roldan, Christian Hunt, Nicole Nalty. Florida Atlantic University, Davie, FL, United States

Behavior studies often involve capturing and marking animals for identification. These procedures are presumed to cause stress. We asked whether capture affected future territorial behavior in male Bachman sparrows. For each subject (n=18) we simulated an intrusion by a rival male conspecific (“STI”) using song playback coupled with a model sparrow. We quantified the strength of the territorial response by scoring behaviors that predict attack in Bachman’s sparrow, including low amplitude songs and proximity to the playback+sparrow model. We then divided our subjects into two groups: one group was captured and banded, and the other received a “mock capture” following capture procedures but the birds were not caught. We then performed additional STI trials approximately 7 days (STI2) and 21 days (STI3) after the capture or mock capture. Subjects were less aggressive during STI2 relative to the first STI. However, birds that were mock-captured resumed their initial aggressiveness by STI3, whereas the captured birds remained significantly less aggressive during STI3. Our data suggest that capturing songbirds can have lasting impacts on behaviors that are of interest to researchers.