Jon Atwood, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
Detailed knowledge of diet is critical to studies in avian biology. The availability of food influences everything from foraging patterns and habitat associations to population dynamics. During June and July 2001, I carried out a preliminary analysis of avian diets while helping to establish a long-term banding station in Ashuelot River Park in Keene, NH. Fecal samples were collected opportunistically during normal banding operations and stored in ethanol until processing. Additionally, insect pretty items were collected through sweep netting of four transects within the banding station approximately once a week for six weeks. Sweep net samples were examined and a reference collection created that represented all arthropods found during the sampling period. Fecal samples were then processed and arthropod fragments compared against the reference collection. Based on this study, American Robins, Gray Catbirds, and Veeries appear to be dietary opportunists in Ashuelot River Park during the summer months. Of the identifiable fragments found in each species’ feces, Coleoptera and Hymenoptera were eaten with a similar frequency as they occurred in the habitat. This investigation serves as a baseline for continued research in this area.