Food Preferences of Spring-migrating Blue-winged Teal in Southwestern Louisiana

We studied effects of pair status, molt intensity, and year on food selection by migrating male blue-winged teal (Anas discors) in southwestern Louisiana during springs 1990 and 1991. Diets consisted primarily of animal foods; but plant material, consisting mostly of seeds, comprised as much as 44%. There was no difference in animal food consumption by paired and unpaired males; however, the proportion of animal material in the male diet was greater in 1990 than in 1991. Animal food consumption was not positively correlated with mean molt intensity. Food preferences of paired and unpaired males were similar in both years. Animal foods, especially benthos and organisms associated with vegetative substrates, were preferred to seeds and freeswimming invertebrates. We recommend that habitat management for spring-migrating blue-winged teal focus on production of invertebrates, especially long-lived forms such as dragonflies, hemipterans (except water boatmen), midges, and other dipterans.

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