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Foraging and Habitat Relationships of Insect-Gleaning Birds in a Sierra Nevada Mixed-Conifer Forest

Daniel A. Airola and Reginald H. Barrett
The Condor
Vol. 87, No. 2 (May, 1985), pp. 205-216
DOI: 10.2307/1366884
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1366884
Page Count: 12
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Foraging and Habitat Relationships of Insect-Gleaning Birds in a Sierra Nevada Mixed-Conifer Forest
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Abstract

Foraging habits and relative abundances of 12 birds comprising the insect-gleaning guild in a Sierran mixed-conifer forest were studied during two breeding seasons to determine: (1) foraging habitat preferences, (2) the extent to which species differ in their use of various components of the foraging niche, (3) patterns of relative abundance vs. niche breadth, and (4) differences between resident and migrant species. Comparisons of proportional availability and bird use of foliage height classes and tree species showed that tree species and, to a lesser extent, heights were used selectively by the guild. Incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) was consistently avoided by all species; other tree species were generally used in a complementary manner by different birds. Of four measured components of foraging niche, the use of foraging site (consisting of air or tree part) showed the greatest difference between species, followed by tree species, foraging techniques, and foraging height. We found no correlation between niche breadth and species abundance for all guild members; however, a significant positive correlation existed for the five resident species. Resident and migrant species groups showed few fundamental differences in foraging patterns, except that migrants tended to use a greater proportion of deciduous foliage than residents. Our results suggest that to provide for this guild, land managers should maintain natural levels of tree species diversity in the mixed-conifer forest type.

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