Media Summary from Low heritability of nest construction in a wild bird

In birds and other taxa, nest construction varies considerably between and within populations. Such variation is hypothesized to have an adaptive (i.e. genetic) basis, but estimates of heritability in nest construction are largely lacking. Here, we demonstrate with data collected over 10 years from 1010 nests built by blue tits in nest-boxes that nest size (height of nest material) and nest composition (proportion of feathers in the nest) are repeatable but only weakly (12–13%) heritable female traits. These findings imply that nest construction may evolve but only if subjected to strong and consistent selection pressures.