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The Feeding Response of Hand-reared Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) to a Stinkbug (Euschistus conspersus)

John Alcock
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 89, No. 2 (Apr., 1973), pp. 307-313
DOI: 10.2307/2424036
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2424036
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Feeding Response of Hand-reared Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) to a Stinkbug (Euschistus conspersus)
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Abstract

Sixteen red-winged blackbirds hand-reared on an artificial and limited diet were each offered two live stinkbugs in succession. Despite never having seen stinkbugs before the test, the birds generally attacked the bug about as rapidly as familiar prey (mealworms). In addition, they ate most of the first and second bugs they received despite apparently finding the insects distasteful. The failure of the limited rearing diet to influence later food selection by the birds and their relative tolerance of novelty and distastefulness were related to features of the species' ecological niche. A readiness to attack both strange and distasteful prey presumably provides the foundation for a bird's familiarity with a large number of food items and may also increase the probability of a young bird's survival during the stressful post-fledgling period.

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