Increased lifetime reproductive success of first‐hatched siblings in Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus
Order of birth has profound consequences on offspring across taxa during development and can have effects on individuals later in life. In birds, differential maternal allocation and investment in their progeny lead to variance in the environmental conditions that off- spring experience during growth within the brood. In particular, laying and hatching order have been proposed to influence individual quality during the growing period, but little is known about the fitness consequences that these two factors have for offspring from a lifetime perspective. We explored the effect of laying and hatching order on post- fledgling survival (measured as recruitment probability) and lifetime reproductive success (LRS) in Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus, using a long-term and individual-based dataset. First-hatched chicks showed higher survival probability and LRS than their siblings. This effect was not due to body condition of the individuals at adulthood, the qual- ity of their mates or the reproductive outcome compared with later-hatched individuals. Instead, first-hatched chicks had a higher recruitment probability. This could be explained by the higher body condition attained by first-hatched chicks at the end of the nesting period, perhaps due to an enhanced competitive advantage for food over their siblings at the time of hatching. Laying order, in contrast to hatching order, appeared to have little or no effect on LRS. Our results suggest that hatching order within siblings predicts fit- ness, and that better early-life conditions during growth experienced by first-hatched chicks improve first survival and then recruitment, resulting in an enhanced LRS.