Predation on butterflies and other insects by breeding Rainbowbirds (Merops ornatus: Meropidae) in south-east Queensland
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The diet of a family of Rainbowbirds (Merops ornatus Latham) nesting in the Currimundi Environmental Park, southern Queensland, was investigated over approximately four months. Three birds were involved, a breeding pair and a helper male. Insect prey was monitored photographically with 836 items being recorded. The recorded diet of the adults before hatching and that brought to the nestlings differed considerably, with Hymenoptera being the most important adult prey class for adults, both numerically and in terms of biomass. However, few honeybees (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) were eaten by adults. Conversely, the most important components of the nestling diet in terms of biomass were cicadas, dragonflies (Anisoptera) and various Diptera. Large numbers of honeybees were also brought to the nestlings during their later development, particularly by the female bird and these comprised almost all the Hymenoptera fed to the nestlings. Lepidoptera, chiefly butterflies of all families, formed a minor but conspicuous part of the diet, particularly of the adults. Relatively fewer were fed to the nestlings, possibly because of the abundance of cicadas and dragonflies in the foraging territory.
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Zoology not elsewhere classified