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Fertility of eggs produced on territories of vasectomized red-winged blackbirds

June 30, 1975

Six male Red-winged Blackbirds scattered throughout 2 marshes were vasectomized in 1971, and their females began laying infertile clutches in 5 days. However, of 39 clutches on their territories, 27 (69%) were fertile. In 1972, 30, 50, and 100% of the males in 3 small isolated marshes were vasectomized, and 44, 33, and 12% of the clutches on their territories were fertile, respectively. All clutches were fertile in a fourth marsh where /// all males were sham-operated. All clutches checked were fertile on territories of fertile males adjacent to sterilized males. During the 2 years there were only 4 partially fertile clutches, 2 each on vasectomized and fertile males' territories. Examination of reproductive tracts of female Red-wings from other marshes showed that sperm retained from copulation were abundant during nest-building or egg-laying but had dropped to a few by hatching. In vasectomy studies, vasectomized males whose territories were the farthest from fertile males had the lowest percentage of fertile clutches. This and other evidence indicated that fertile clutches on territories of vasectomized males may have been due to females being promiscuous with fertile males. The occurrence of fertile clutches on territories of vasectomized males indicates that sterilizing some of the males in a population (as in a chemosterilant program) would not result in a proportional decrease in fertile clutches. However, the decreases achieved (up to 88%), and the probability of better results in an actual program, indicate that male chemosterilization would be a feasible means of reducing Red-wing populations.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1975
Title Fertility of eggs produced on territories of vasectomized red-winged blackbirds
Authors Olin E. Bray, James J. Kennelly, Joseph L. Guarino
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wilson Bulletin
Index ID 70210083
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse