Food Habits of Ring-necked Ducks Wintering in Florida

Food habits of wintering ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) were determined by examining gullets from 597 birds collected in 3 regions of Florida. Fifty-five of the gullets contained trace amounts of food and 148 contained >1 ml. Forty-one foods were identified. Animal matter, principally snails, chironomids, and dragonflies, occurred in 43.6% of the samples containing food. Plant foods, principally hydrilla {Hydrilla verticillata), waterlilies (Nuphar advena, Nymphaea odorata, Brasenia scherberi), and sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), occurred in 89.1 % of the samples containing food. Food habits were significantly different among regions and between the sexes in November and March. The major foods were: waterlily seeds in the north region, waterlily seeds and hydrilla parts in the north-central region, and hydrilla and sawgrass in the south region. Overall, hydrilla and waterlilies were the most important foods.

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