Study of Avian Frugivory through Feces Analysis
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In order to understand the role that birds play in the dispersal of berry seeds, one must first know which species of berries are being eaten and by which species of birds. Actual observation of feeding behavior is quite difficult, since birds do not always feed on trees and shrubs readily visible or accessible to human observation and the presence of an observer may alter the normal feeding behavior of the birds. For these reasons, feces analysis may be a better way to discover which birds are feeding on which berries. Indigestible materials from the fruits, including unharmed seeds, pass through the digestive system and can be identified in the feces, making it possible to determine what the bird has eaten. This paper is an evaluation of a technique of feces analysis used at the Manomet Bird Observatory (MBO), located in Manomet, Massachusetts, to determine the fruit component of bird diets. Based on the results of the feces analysis, possible relations between the bird species and the plant species in size, timing, and migratory behavior are also discussed.