Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

The Digestion of Pollen by Some Australian Birds

RD Wooller, KC Richardson and CM Pagendham

Australian Journal of Zoology 36(4) 357 - 362
Published: 1988


About one-third of all banksia pollen grains excreted 1-2 hours after ingestion by captive New Holland honeyeaters (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae), zebra finches (Poephila guttata) and budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), had lost their protoplasmic contents. Most pollen passed through the digestive systems of these birds in 4-5 hours and up to 44% of grains were digested. The faeces of wild purple- crowned lorikeets (Glossopsitta porphyrocephala) showed a similar proportion of empty grains. In the budgerigar, honeyeater and lorikeet, loss of contents of pollen grains occurred, not in the stomach, but progressively along the intestine.

© CSIRO 1988

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