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Diet of the Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) in rice fields on its wintering grounds in Argentina

Rodrigo Ezequiel Lorenzón, Carolina Antoniazzi, Franco Fabre, Virginia Quiroga, Silvia Regner, Ana Laura Ronchi-Virgolini, Pamela Olguin, Evelina Leon, Adolfo Beltzer


Winter diet of Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), a bird considered a pest of rice fields, is known to consist primarily of seeds. However, it is not yet possible to establish the extent to which non-rice plants and animal components contribute to its diet. To contribute to these issues, we studied the diet of the Bobolink found in rice fields on its wintering grounds in Santa Fe, Argentina, to provide information on (i) the composition of the diet and (ii) the relative importance of plant and animal components in the diet and of the different prey categories. We captured Bobolinks with mist nets and obtained samples of stomach contents by warm water and emetic-based regurgitation to determine the composition of the diet (n = 46 samples) and the importance of the different prey (n = 25 samples), mainly during March, just prior to northbound migration. We confirmed that the Bobolink's diet in this region during this period is predominantly herbivorous (97%) and rice-based (55%), although it also consumes a large number of seeds of non-cultivated plants that represented 42% of the diet. Invertebrates, although of less importance than plant components (3%), had been consumed by 97% of captured individuals. Our results document the importance of non-cultivated plants and animal prey in the diet of Bobolinks in addition to rice.

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