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

Behavioral Energetics of Overwintering in the Rifleman, Acanthisitta-Chloris

A Lill

Australian Journal of Zoology 39(6) 643 - 654
Published: 1991


The role of behavioural adjustments in meeting increased daily energy requirements in winter was investigated in rifleman, Acanthisitta chloris, inhabiting lowland forest in South I., New Zealand, by comparing their population density, time-activity budget and foraging behaviour in autumn and winter. Rifleman foraged for 83% of daytime in both seasons. The combined effects on the birds' winter energy budget of increased thermoregulation costs and the shorter daylength for foraging were at least partly offset by an estimated 23-29% decrease in the amount of energy expended daily on activity and a 78% increment in prey caught per day. The reduced energy expenditure on activity resulted from rifleman spending less time on expensive flying and more time roosting. The increase in prey capture rate may have stemmed from a 35% seasonal reduction in the birds' population density and reduced prey mobility at lower ambient temperatures. Marked sexual size dimorphism was not reflected in gender differences in activity budgeting or prey capture rate, but the sexes differed in their relative use of foraging substrates. Rifleman showed few seasonal changes in daily activity rhythm or microhabitat use. The behavioural energetic overwintering tactics of rifleman are compared with those of other Australasian and north temperate zone land-birds.

© CSIRO 1991

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