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Localisation of mainland field sites (Montpellier field sites in green, La Rouvière in red). Map from Google Earth 2022.

La Rouvière

La Rouvière is a forest near the town of Montarnaud, northwest from Montpellier. The population has been monitored since 1991 with all nest boxes within the same site. The habitat is mainly composed of deciduous downy oaks (Quercus pubescens) but some small areas are dominated by evergreen holm oaks (Quercus ilex). There are currently 272 nest boxes weekly monitored during the breeding season. The main birds monitored are the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and the great tit (Parus major). About half of the nest boxes are equipped with small entry (28 mm) to favor blue tits, while the other half is equipped with larger entry (32 mm) that great tits can use.

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Montpellier

This is the most recent monitored population (2011), and is comprised of eight study sites across the city of Montpellier, with different gradients of urbanization. Parc de la Mosson, parc de Font-Colombe, quartier de Mas-Nouguier, parc de Grammont, faculté des Sciences, campus du CNRS, jardin botanique et zoo de Lunaret are weekly checked and represent a total of 187 nest boxes monitored during the breeding season. The main bird monitored is the great tit (Parus major) but each year, we also get blue tits (Cyanistes caruleus) and sometimes crested tits (Lophophanes cristatus). The habitat varies depending on the gradient of urbanization but is mainly composed of oaks (Quercus sp.), Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and/or plane tree (Platanus orientalis). (Not so) fun fact: nest boxes are usually set higher because they can be stolen more readily, due to the higher presence of humans around.

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Left: Open-field set in the forest of La Rouvière. Right: great tit being processed in the park of Font-Colombe in Montpellier under the watchful eye of a young neighbour

The experimental aviaries

The experimental aviaries are located on the experimental fields, behind the CEFE building on the CNRS campus in Montpellier. There are about 20 aviaries and an ALGECO container used for experimental behavioral tests. Birds hold in the aviaries are manipulated by scientists and technicians with the appropriate permit (certificate of capacity for the rearing of non-domestic species).

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Left: Individual cases used for mate choice experiments installed inside an aviary. Right: a carrousel device also used for mate choice experiments installed inside the ALGECO container attached to the aviaries.