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Thesis Abstract – LeMaster (1995)


Preferential Foraging Behavior: Do Birds Prefer Foods with Vitamins?

Author and college:

Robin E. LeMaster, Pitzer College


April 19, 1995


Bachelor of Arts in Biology


Dan Guthrie, Joint Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges


Foraging behavior in birds is governed by several factors, including (in some species) vitamin and mineral content in food. I attempt here to ascertain whether Anna’s hummingbirds or zebra finches prefer sucrose solutions containing vitamin and mineral supplements. Both wild hummingbirds and captive zebra finches were given the choice of water, sucrose solution, and vitamin-sucrose solution. Qualitative analysis of hummingbirds revealed that they did not prefer vitamins, but sucrose solutions. This is in direct contrast to a Costa Rica study where stripe-tailed hummingbirds preferred high vitamin concentration sucrose solutions. Zebra finches also preferred sucrose solutions. However, there are several possible explanations accounting for this behavior, and more study is required.

For more information:

Contact Velda Ross – vross@kecksci.claremont.edu

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