Ecological Aspects of Some Mixed-Species Foraging Flocks of Birds

@article{Morse1970EcologicalAO,
  title={Ecological Aspects of Some Mixed-Species Foraging Flocks of Birds},
  author={Douglass H. Morse},
  journal={Ecological Monographs},
  year={1970},
  volume={40},
  pages={119-168}
}
  • D. H. Morse
  • Published 1 February 1970
  • Environmental Science
  • Ecological Monographs
Mixed—species flocks of birds composed of chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, nuthatches, creepers, kinglets, and wood warblers were studied in several habitats in Louisiana, Maryland, and Maine. Chickadees and titmice usually led these groups. Both the size of the flock and density of birds varied with the habitat. An inverse relation existed between the density of birds in a habitat and the percentage of them that were species participating in flocks. Individuals of species regularly… 
THE FORMATION, STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF MIXED-SPECIES INSECTIVOROUS BIRD FLOCKS IN WEST AFRICAN SAVANNA WOODLAND
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The advantages of mixed flocking are thought to be connected with finding patches of the food of bark- and foliage-searching insectivores, which were the only species regularly seen foraging in the flocks.
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The independent associations among flocks, which characterize most species, and the observation that nuclear species were not close neighbors more than expected for any of three attendant species suggests that foraging enhancement is not the principal benefit that attendant species derive from flocking.
WINTER FLOCKING OF INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS IN MONTANE PINE-OAK FORESTS IN MIDDLE AMERICA
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It is suggested that non-random association among species within flocks may result in part from enhanced vigilance for predator detection afforded by flock members using similar parts of the environment at the same time.
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The existence of mixed-species flocks of birds feeding on insects were observed mainly in forest in Sarawak at a time of year when insect availability is known to be near its annual minimum, interpreted primarily as an adaptation for augmenting available insect food by flushing insects as a result of the foraging activities of flock members.
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Overall patterns were consistent with the explanation that flocking enables an expansion of foraging niche by reducing the risk of predation.
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Results support the view that both the antipredation model and foraging efficiency model seem to be valid for mixed-species flocking, however, in the case of monospecific flocks, the territory maintenance could be the most important factor.
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