Foraging behaviour and time allocation of chick-rearing Razorbills Alca torda at Gręsholmen, central Baltic Sea
Benvenuti, S., Dall'Antonia, L. & Lyngs, P. (2001) Ibis 143(4):402-412
A new type of bird-borne data logger, which stores data from flight and depth sensors at pre-set intervals, was used to investigate the foraging pattern and diving behaviour of chick-rearing Razorbills Alca torda breeding on the islet of Gręsholmen (central Baltic Sea, Denmark). The instruments recorded all relevant events in the 35 foraging trips accomplished by six different individual birds; a seventh bird, equipped with a direction recorder, provided information on directional preferences exhibited on seven different trips. A foraging trip usually consisted of a number of flights interrupted by a small number of dives probably performed to explore the site for prey availability. True foraging occurred during the last stops in the outbound trip, after which the bird returned to the nest with a single flight or a sequence of a few flights. The duration of nocturnal trips was significantly longer than diurnal trips, possibly due to a preference for the familiar marine environment shown by birds when they are not 'on duty' in the nest. The majority of dives consisted of V-shaped dives in which birds descend to a maximum depth and then start ascending. A clear diurnal variation of the dive depth, which never exceeded 43 m, was recorded. Our results show that the new types of recording devices can be used to answer basic questions about the foraging strategies of marine birds.
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