Size and Composition of Foraging Flights in Two Species of Piscivorous Colonial Birds: Limited Evidence for Intra- or Interspecific Information Transfer
Jennifer L. Doucette, Victoria A. Kjoss, Christopher M. Somers*
Identifiers and Pagination:Year: 2008
First Page: 48
Last Page: 56
Publisher Id: TOOENIJ-1-48
Article History:Received Date: 27/06/2008
Revision Received Date: 15/11/2008
Acceptance Date: 17/11/2008
Electronic publication date: 24/12/2008
Collection year: 2008
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Colonial birds must derive benefits from living in conspecific groups and with other species. One possible benefit is that they follow previously successful individuals to foraging sites (information center hypothesis). To test for evidence of intra- and interspecific information transfer, we assessed the group size and composition of flights of doublecrested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) at two mixed colonies. Flights by solo individuals were the most common outbound type, suggesting that the birds do not immediately follow others. However, the majority of the total number of outbound birds traveled in groups. In comparison, groups inbound to colonies and flying between feeding locations were large. Regardless of flight direction, groups were almost always largest during the late chick-rearing period. This suggests that groups may have some function, although likely not to share information about foraging-sites. Mixed-species groups in general were rare, so it is unlikely that these birds commonly locate prey by following other species in flight.