The effects of food abundance, reproductive success and age of nestlings on parental care in female Tengmalm's Owls were tested in this study. The behaviour of female owls was monitored by a camera system from hatching to fledging at 12 nests in 2004 and 2006 in the Ore Mountains, Czech Republic. Food abundance and reproductive success (the latter measured at the end of female's attendance of the brood) were higher in 2004 than in 2006. Females remained for a significantly longer time with their nestlings at the nests in 2004 (24.8 ± 2.4 days) than in 2006 (22.2 ± 0.9 days). During the attendance period, they were leaving the nest for several short trips each night; the duration of these trips, the total time spent outside the nest per night, and the number of trips per night did not differ between years. However, these variables did increase with increasing age of the young (though the number of trips per night increased only during the last week of the females' stay on the nests). Two types of female parental strategies were recorded after the end of brood attendance period: in 2004 when food was abundant, most of the females left their broods, whereas in 2006 when food was scarce, most of the females continued parental care and took part in the feeding of nestlings. The reproductive success was correlated negatively with both the total number of prey items and the proportional contribution of the females to nestling feeding. These results support the hypothesis that if the ecological conditions are such that the offspring can be raised by a single parent, its mate may abandon the clutch or brood and increase its fitness by sequential polygamy (polyandry/polygyny) during a single breeding season.
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