The Wilson Journal of Ornithology
White-winged Diuca Finch (
) Nesting onQuelccaya Ice Cap, Peru´
Douglas R. Hardy
and Spencer P. Hardy
ABSTRACT.—We found evidence of birds nestingdirectly on glacier ice of the Quelccaya Ice Cap in theCordillera Vilcanota, Peru´ at elevations up to 5,300 m.Observations during June and July over several yearsconsisted of numerous nests not
having obvi-ously fallen from the steep and dynamic, retreatingglacier margin. A typical nest was a bulky structure of grass and twigs with a dry mass of 160 g. The innercup was nicely formed and lined with ﬁne grass, mea-suring 6–7 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm deep. Feathersand entire wings of White-winged Diuca Finch (
) were observed in association with thenests; this was the passerine species most commonlyseen in the area. The evidence indicates the glaciernests were built and used by White-winged DiucaFinch, probably during the Austral autumn when on-site automated measurements indicate the wet seasonends and air temperatures have not yet decreased. Thisis the ﬁrst well-documented case of high-elevation avi-an nesting on glacier ice.
Received 30 November 2006. Accepted 26 December 2007.
Some birds are well adapted to environmentswhich are seasonally dominated by snow or seaice, but birds are not generally associated with
Climate System Research Center, Geosciences De-partment, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA01003, USA.
Marion W. Cross School, Norwich, VT 05055,USA.
Corresponding author;e-mail: email@example.com
glaciers. Only the Emperor Penguin (
Aptenod- ytes forsteri
) is known to routinely nest on ice,typically frozen sea-ice (i.e., fast-ice) but attimes in association with ice shelves derivedfrom glaciers (Kooyman 1993). Transient birdshave been observed passing over mountain gla-ciers at high elevations outside the polar regionsor discovered after succumbing to harsh envi-ronmental conditions (Krajick 2002; L. G.Thompson, pers. comm.). However, glacier sur-faces are usually cold, actively changingthrough accumulation and ablation, and at timeswet; conditions that are poorly suited for nestingand raising young birds.The ornithological literature contains onlyone detailed account of nesting on a glacier.This was the unusual circumstance where gla-ciers advancing into Alaska’s Prince WilliamSound overran a Black-legged Kittiwake (
) colony (Irons 1988). Previously-used nest sites were unavailable and 77 kitti-wake nests were constructed on the glacierface. All of these nests failed due to ablationand/or meltwater runoff which either dis-lodged the nests or caused them to disintegrate(Irons 1988; D. B. Irons, pers. comm.).The objective of this paper is to present ev-idence of nesting by White-winged DiucaFinch (
) directly on glacierice of the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Cuzco De-