, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 63-70

Importance of communal foraging grounds outside the reed marsh for breeding great reed warblers

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Foraging habitat selection of breeding great reed warblers was studied at a shore of Lake Biwa. The foraging grounds of parent warblers during the nesting period were not restricted to the breeding territory of the reed marsh, their nestling habitat. The paddy field outside the reed marsh was used communally by them throughout the breeding season. Females with early stage nestlings did not visit the paddy field whereas when nestlings were older than 3 days, more than half of their total food was collected there. Females with nests adjacent to the paddy field tended to exploit the paddy field more often than those with nests distant from it. Monogamously mated females tended to exploit the paddy field more often than polygynously mated females. Food collected in the paddy field was larger than that in the reed marsh and parent birds were prepared to travel longer distances to exploit the rich source of food in the paddy field. The importance of the communal foraging ground outside the reed marsh as a background of the polygynous mating system of this species is discussed.