The feeding ecology of Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

  • Rutledge S Boyes
  • Michael R Perrin

Abstract

The diet of Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, was distinctly seasonal, comprising 71 different food items from 37 tree species in 16 families. During 480 road transects over 24 months, food item preferences closely tracked fruiting phenology, resulting in significant positive correlations between Levins’ niche  breadth, rainfall and food resource availability. Meyer’s Parrot can,  therefore, be considered to be an opportunistic generalist that tracks resource availability across a wide suite of potential food items.  Predispersal seed predation accounted for 62% of total feeding activity, of which 37% were seeds from ripe pods and fruits. Unripe seeds were, however, preferred when seasonally available. Seeds and parasites from fruits and pods accounted for 42% and 35% of total feeding bouts, respectively. Fruit pulp was predominantly consumed as a by-product of seed predation. Four arthropods, previously unknown in the diets of African parrots, were discovered during the breeding season. The most important tree species in their diet included (in order of magnitude):  Kigelia africana, Diospyros mespiliformis, Combretum imberbe, Ficus sycomorus, Diospyros lycoides lycoides, Combretum hereroense and Berchemia discolor. Geophagy was reported in the questionnaire. There was no evidence to support any local migrations.

OSTRICH 2009, 80(3): 153–164

Author Biographies

Rutledge S Boyes
Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation, School of Botany and Zoology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa; Current address: Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Michael R Perrin
Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation, School of Botany and Zoology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525