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Water Content of Prey of Nestling Blue Tits in a Corsican Habitat

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Caterpillars are important prey for tits (Parus spp.), including Corsican blue tits. It is hypothesized that the low abundance of water-rich caterpillars in combination with high temperatures, especially at the end of the breeding season, cause problems of water balance for the nestlings in the Corsican population. Tits were expected to prefer feeding their young with water-rich prey. The three most important groups of prey (caterpillars [82.8% water], grasshoppers [78.9%] and spiders [69.1%]) differ significantly in water content. The water content of grasshoppers was much higher than expected from the literature. From previous studies it was known that, apart from caterpillars (20-60% of the prey items), tits prefer feeding their nestlings with spiders (26-40%) rather than with grasshoppers (5-17%). This unexpected result is discussed within the framework of a cost-benefit analysis of prey choice, mainly with respect to prey availability.

Affiliations: 1: (CNRS/CEFE, B.P. 5051, F-34033 Montpellier Cedex 1, France


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