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Rictal Bristle Function in Willow Flycatcher

Michael R. Conover and Don E. Miller
The Condor
Vol. 82, No. 4 (Nov., 1980), pp. 469-471
DOI: 10.2307/1367580
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1367580
Page Count: 3
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Rictal Bristle Function in Willow Flycatcher
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Abstract

We examined the function of rictal bristles on Willow Flycatchers by testing whether their removal or the placement of small pieces of transparent tape on them would reduce the ability of captive birds to capture live house flies. Neither operation adversely affected the birds' ability to capture prey, indicating that the rictal bristles do not aid in prey capture. Other experiments with bird specimens placed in a wind tunnel demonstrated that rictal bristles may protect the eyes from food items the bird is trying to capture. Particles released in front of the bird's open mouth and blown back towards its head struck an eye more frequently after the rictal bristles had been removed.

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