Scopus: Journal of East African Ornithology

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Nest food provisioning in the Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea does not vary with parental sex differences and time of day

Mary Mwangi, Peter Njoroge, Robert Chira, Nathan Gichuki


The Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea inhabits some of the most highly threatened grassland ecosystems in Kenya. Although previous studies have been undertaken on feeding ecology of this species, a knowledge gap still exists in relation to its nest food provisioning behaviour. We studied the food provisioning behaviour of Red-capped Larks in open grassland habitat at Kedong Ranch in Naivasha, Kenya. Observations were completed on 18 active nests for a total of 163 observation hours between 07:00 and 18:00. Results confirmed that nestling diet comprised insect larvae (including caterpillars), grasshoppers, butterflies/moths, ants and beetles. Food provisioning rates for males and females combined, as well as independently, did not vary with the nestling age. In relation to specific prey items, provisioning rates of insect larvae and butterflies/moths during different hours of the day did not vary. However, there was a significant difference in provisioning rates of grasshoppers for the time periods. The findings provide an understanding of food requirements and feeding behaviour of the Red-capped Lark, and therefore are important for predicting how future changes in the availability of food resources could infl uence feeding, reproductive success, and possibly survival of the species.

Keywords: Kedong Ranch, lark, grassland, nestling diet, insects

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