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The Condor

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Bird populations--United States, Avian biology, Eastern Kingbirds


Foraging data on Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) were collected during the early breeding season in eastern Kansas to test the hypothesis that foraging rate and other aspects of foraging behavior vary with weather. Foraging characteristics of five additional kingbird species were also examined to assess Fitzpatrick's (1980) generalization that kingbirds (Tyrannus spp.) are aerial hawking specialists. In Eastern Kingbirds, total foraging rate was independent of air temperature, cloud cover, wind speed, and time of day, but the rate of aerial hawking varied directly with air temperature and inversely with cloud cover (both P < 0.05). Effects of the two variables were additive. The percentage of foraging movements that were aerial hawks also increased with temperature and declined with cloud cover, and, hover-gleaning and perch-to-ground sallying were observed mainly during cloudy weather. Sally (i.e., foraging flight) distance correlated directly with perch height and air temperature, and large insects were captured almost exclusively in long upward or horizontal flights. I interpret these data to indicate that foraging behavior and the capture of large, flying insects depends on weather because of how it affects the activity of insect prey. Foraging data on kingbirds support Fitzpatrick's generalization, but the relative use of aerial hawking varies considerably among species. Resident Tropical Kingbirds( T. melancholicus) are the most specialized foragers, whereas the migrant and widely distributed Eastern Kingbird appears to be the most generalized. Certain habitats also appear to favor the use of particular foraging methods (e.g., outward striking in grasslands and perch-to-ground sallying in drier, open habitats).


This is the publisher's final PDF. © 1987 by the Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press.



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