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Feeding Ecology of Breeding Blue-Winged Teals

July 31, 1974

A 5-year investigation of factors influencing the selection of foods consumed by blue-winged teals (Anas discors) during the breeding season in the glaciated prairie region of south-central North Dakota showed that birds first arriving on the breeding grounds consumed a diet consisting of 45 percent invertebrates. The proportion of animal foods in the diet increased to 95 percent at the onset of the nesting season. The quality and quantity of foods selected at any given time were influenced by the biological demands and morphological adaptations of the bird, the behavior and ecology of the invertebrates selected as foods, and the general nature of the aquatic ecosystems as determined by the hydrology and geology of the area and modified by land use and weather. Feeding activities changed significantly when food availability within the aquatic ecosystem changed. During the spring and early summer, temporary and seasonal wetlands, if not severely disturbed, were of paramount importance to breeding blue-winged teals since they provided abundant and readily available, high protein, animal foods. Later in the summer when seasonal wetlands began to dry up, insects began to emerge in the semipermanent ponds and lakes, and feeding intensity shifted to these more permanent waters. This trend, however, was often reversed temporarily during the early summer following heavy precipitation that refilled shallow water areas and again stimulated invertebrate development.

Publication Year 1974
Title Feeding Ecology of Breeding Blue-Winged Teals
DOI 10.2307/3800869
Authors George A. Swanson, Mavis I. Meyer, Jerome R. Serie
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70210094
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center