EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship
 

Title

Habitat Use and Foraging Behavior of Eastern Bluebirds ( Sialia sialis) in Relation to Winter Weather

Department

Biological Sciences

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

Abstract

Population declines of songbirds following severe winters draw attention to a need to better understand behavioral responses to inclement weather. We used observations of radio-tracked Sialia sialis (Eastern Bluebird) wintering in Kentucky to examine the effects of weather on habitat use, group size, foraging behavior, and diet. Home ranges were smaller than published estimates, and consisted of more open than wooded habitat, in proportion to availability. Although habitat use appeared unchanged during inclement weather, Bluebirds increased group sizes, and shifted from insectivory to frugivory during periods of sub-freezing temperatures and snow cover. Fecal analysis confirmed the weather-driven shift of diet. Inclement winter weather likely lowers the efficiency of insectivory, leading to changes in social and foraging behaviors.

Journal Title

Northeastern Naturalist

Conference Name

Northeastern Naturalist

Journal Volume

Vol. 24

Journal Issue

Special Issue

Article Starting Page

B1

Article Ending Page

B18