Abundance and nesting sites characteristics of red-headed picathartes Picathartes oreas in Cross River State, Nigeria
This study assessed the abundance and nesting sites characteristics of red-headed picathartes (Picathartes oreas) in protected and unprotected forest in Cross River State, from August 2016 to January 2017. Data were collected through oral interviews, and field observations, using area search and quadrant methods. Data on bird and nest were tested using one-way ANOVA and t-test while tree species diversity indices were calculated using Paleontological Statistics Software Package, version 16. Results revealed that a mean of 38±52 individual bird from six colonies were sighted during the survey. Higher number of 20 (52.63%) individuals from two colonies was recorded in the undisturbed montane rain forest of the Okwangwo Division of the Cross River National Park than the disturbed montane rain forest with 18 (47.37%) individuals from four colonies. A total of 40 (50%; n = 20 each) nests of red-headed picathartes were sighted during the survey around the undisturbed and disturbed montane rain forest respectively. All (100%; n = 40) the nests observed were attached to the south-eastern side of the rocks and all the nests were constructed with mud mixed with grass. Colony Six was on the highest altitude with an elevation of 529 m, followed by colony two with an elevation of 342 m while the lowest elevation was 195 m recorded in colony three. Tree diversity index was higher in the protected forest (3.352; 3.227) than in the unprotected forest (1.846). Characteristic features of Picathartes oreas habitat were rock, hill, valleys and rivers and streams. It was evidenced by the study that Picathartes oreas still nests both in the disturbed and undisturbed forest but the level of disturbance and type of crops grown may have impact on the nesting behaviour. Therefore, anthropogenic activities should be regulated in the area, to ensure the conservation of Picathartes oreas.
Keywords: Picathartes oreas; abundance; nesting sites characteristics; unprotected and protected forest.