The impact of soil texture on the selection of nesting sites by the Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedinidae: Alcedo cristata Pallas 1764)
AbstractThe first granulometrical analysis of soil samples from nesting banks of the Malachite KingfisherAlcedo cristata is reported. In total 56 samples from the Kinshasa area were analysed. Three standardised particle size fractions were determined in all groups of samples (percentage of sand, clay and silt). Mean particle percentage of soil samples from banks occupied by Malachite Kingfishers averaged 10.8 ± 6.1 of silt, 11.6 ± 6.5 of clay and 81.4 ± 11.4 of sand. A significant difference was found in the proportion of clay between banks with and without kingfisher nests. The results of the present study hence suggest that, as has been documented in other burrowing bird species, soil texture determines the selection of nesting sites in the Malachite Kingfisher. Our results indicate that even a slight difference in the proportion of clay can substantially affect the suitability of banks for the establishment of nests. In fact, burrowing birds must find suitable soils whose structure allows for a good compromise between stability and hardness to dig out, which poses an energy challenge just before the breeding season.
OSTRICH 2011, 82(3): 243–246