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Comparative behaviour of free-ranging blackbirds (Turdus merula) and silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) with hexose sugars in artificial grapes

By V. P. Saxton, G. J. Hickling, M. C. T. Trought, G. L. Creasy

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Abstract

In order to detect bird responses to sugar parameters of ripening grapes, artificial grapes containing controlled concentrations of hexose sugars were offered to free-range blackbirds (Turdus merula) and silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis). Time-lapse video was used to observe the two species of birds feeding on grapes presented on a novel two-tier bird-table. The comparative interest displayed by the birds for grapes of varying concentrations of hexose sugars, and the time spent feeding by each species were analysed statistically, to discover the level of sugar concentration in grapes that is attractive to these birds. Blackbirds exhibited a preference for high sugar concentration, while silvereyes preferred grapes with a lower concentration. Blackbird visits were much shorter than those of silvereyes and they took whole grapes whereas silvereyes pecked. Differences in behaviour of the two species are discussed and the assumption that all frugivorous birds are attracted to fruit for similar reasons is challenged. It may be that differences in digestive glucose absorption processes underlie the observed difference in behavioural responses of the two species.

Date 2004
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 85
Issue 1/2
Pages 157-166
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2003.09.010
Author Address Centre for Viticulture and Oenology, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, P.O. Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.saxtonv@lincoln.ac.nz
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Birds
  4. Dextrose
  5. Feeding
  6. Feeding behavior
  7. Feed preferences
  8. Flowers
  9. Fruits
  10. Glucose
  11. Imitation foods
  12. Nutrition
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Pests.
  15. Physiology and biochemistry
  16. Plants
  17. simulated foods
  18. species differences
  19. Synthetics
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  1. peer-reviewed