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Emu
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  A Journal of BirdLife Australia
 
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.


The sources of diurnal variation in caching behaviour of South Island robins (Petroica australis australis)

Craig Barnett, Noako Emura

Abstract

There have been few studies that have examined the food storing behaviour of short-term scatter hoarding birds in relation to differences in ambient temperature. In this study, we examined the patterns of caching behaviour in 13 male South Island Robins (Petroica australis australis) in relation to the time of day and ambient temperature. We predicted that cold conditions would cause a stress-induced increase in caching behaviour in birds. We also predicted that birds would cache the greatest number of mealworms in the morning and that the numbers of mealworms cached would decline throughout the day. We found that there was a negative relationship between the numbers of mealworms cached and temperature and that the numbers of mealworms that birds cached throughout the day declined. Finally, we also found that there was a positive relationship between the total number mealworms that birds cached and their daily mass gains. This study shows that at low temperatures, food is more valuable to birds when stored internally compared with Parids. Our results also support theoretical models of avian caching behaviour, which show that birds should reduce the number of food items they cache throughout the day as they prepare for their nightly fasts.

MU14020  Accepted 01 May 2014
 
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