For the study, researchers replaced 36 natural starling nests in nest boxes with artificially made nests. Each nest retained the female’s clutch of eggs. Half of the artificial nests included dry grass and a combination of herbs commonly found in starling nests. The other half of the nests had only dry grass. The herbs included were yarrow, or milfoil, (Achillea millefolium); hogweed (Heracleum spondyleum); cow parsley (Anthriscus silvestris); black elder (Sambucus niger); goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria); and willow (Salix alba).
The researchers also placed a “dummy” egg in each nest, which monitored temperature in the nest.
“Egg temperatures and nest attendance were higher in herb than nonherb nests—particularly early in the incubation period,” says Caren Cooper, co-author of a paper on the work and a research associate professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Forestry and Environmental…
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