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Feeding behavior and prey of three migratory shorebirds (Aves: Charadriiformes) during the nonbreeding season in southern Brazil

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Migratory shorebirds such as Calidris alba, C. fuscicollis, and Charadrius semipalmatus congregate in stopover areas like coastal wetlands to rest and feed, building up sufficient energy for their ongoing migration. To investigate the feeding ecology of these three shorebird species during their stopover, we conducted a comparative analysis of their feeding behavior and prey in Lagoa do Peixe National Park. We examined the feeding behavior using video recordings of 594 actively foraging individuals. Additionally, we determined the shorebirds' diet by analyzing 106 droppings collected from two areas within the park: the beach's intertidal zone and the lagoon's mudflats. The results highlighted that shorebird species showed marked differences in feeding strategies and prey captured during foraging. C. semipalmatus employed a visual-run-stop strategy with surface pecking, with no significant variations observed between the beach and the lagoon. The two Calidris species utilized a tactile-continuous hunting strategy, involving pecking and probing, with some variations observed between the beach and the lagoon. Multiple probing was mostly used on the beach, and single probing in the lagoon. The variation in probing behavior between the Calidris species appeared to be associated with differences in substrate type and food availability in the respective habitats they frequented. Additionally, our findings indicated that visual searching led to a more diverse prey selection, particularly in the lagoon. These differences in foraging strategies suggest that shorebird species can exploit the park's intertidal plains and trophic resources differently, emphasizing the importance of considering spatial and dietary variability in studying their foraging behavior.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from JAAB.


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We thank the staff of the Lagoa do Peixe National Park for their invaluable assistance in facilitating the logistics of this study.


This study was supported by research grants from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Brazil.

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Correspondence to Jenny A. Angarita-Báez.

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Angarita-Báez, J.A., Carlos, C.J. Feeding behavior and prey of three migratory shorebirds (Aves: Charadriiformes) during the nonbreeding season in southern Brazil. acta ethol 27, 27–38 (2024).

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