Climate change advances timing of life-history stages, such as breeding and migration, but different stages tend to shift at distinct rates, causing changes in the intervals between stages. Such mismatches could, for example, lead to more overlap between the two energetically-costly stages of wing molt and breeding. We studied how such molt-breeding overlap affects breeding success in a migratory passerine, the Pied Flycatcher. For this, we experimentally induced wing molt gaps in breeding birds, and monitored how this affected breeding activity and breeding success. To better understand how wing molt affected flight performance directly, we studied the escape flights of birds with molt gaps, using high-speed stereoscopic videography. From this we showed that Pied Flycatchers precisely adjust their wingbeat kinematics to mask he detrimental effects of wing molt on escape performance. The combination of our ecological and biomechanics approach allowed us to show that the molt-induced decrease in flight performance caused a reduction in parental care by the molting bird. This suggests that an increase in molt-breeding overlap caused by climate change, may negatively affect survival and breeding success in migratory passerines.
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