In altricial birds, the nestling period is an important part of the breeding phase because the juveniles may spend quite a long time in the nest, with associated high energy costs for the parents. The length of the nestling period can be variable and its duration may be influenced by both biotic and abiotic factors; however, studies of this have mostly been undertaken on passerine birds. We studied individual duration of nestling period of 98 Tengmalm's owl chicks (Aegolius funereus) at 27 nests during five breeding seasons using a camera and chip system and radio-telemetry. We found the nestlings stayed in the nest box for 27 - 38 days from hatching (mean ± SD, 32.4 ± 2.2 days). The individual duration of nestling period was negatively related to wing length, but no formally significant effect was found for body weight, sex, prey availability and/or weather conditions. The fledging sequence of individual nestlings was primarily related to hatching order; no relationship with wing length and/or other factors was found in this case. We suggest the length of wing is the most important measure of body condition and individual quality in Tengmalm's owl young determining the duration of the nestling period. Other differences from passerines (e.g., the lack of effect of weather or prey availability on nestling period) are considered likely to be due to different life-history traits, in particular different food habits and nesting sites and greater risk of nest predation among passerines.
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