Co-occurrence and commensal feeding between Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia)

Hamza, F., & Selmi, S. (2016). Co-occurrence and commensal feeding between Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and Eurasian Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia. Bird Study 63: 509–515. doi: 10.1080/00063657.2016.1238035
PDF in RresearchGate

Abstract:

Capsule: The spatial distribution and feeding efficiency of Little Egrets Egretta garzetta wintering in the gulf of Gabès, Tunisia, are affected by a commensal association with the Eurasian Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia.

Aims: To investigate the role of the interspecific interaction between Little Egrets and Eurasian Spoonbills in shaping the spatial distribution and feeding efficiency of Little Egrets.

Methods: Using count and behavioural data, we examined the co-occurrence of these species in flocks, and compared the foraging efficiency of Little Egrets feeding with Eurasian Spoonbills with that of solitary Little Egrets.

Results: We found that the presence of Eurasian Spoonbills doubled the chance of Little Egrets being present. Within mixed flocks, the number of Little Egrets increased with the number of Spoonbills. Moreover, Little Egrets foraging in association with Eurasian Spoonbills took fewer steps, had higher pecking rates and higher prey intake rates than solitary Little Egrets.

Conclusion: Little Egrets appear to obtain foraging efficiency benefits by following Eurasian Spoonbills. This interaction seems to play a role in determining the spatial distribution of Little Egrets.

 

Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia (Csaba Pigniczki )

Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia (Csaba Pigniczki )

Help: Recoveries of Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) in Africa

As we can see from the map below, it is clearly visible that Tunisia is the most important site for the Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) ringed in Hungary, and we have regular observations from Libya, and there are some observations from Morocco and Mauritania, which is rarely visited by Hungarian individuals. We have only old recoveries from Egypt and Sudan, from between 1920-1950, and no data from Algeria or Chad – we suppose there are Spoonbills, but not checked for colour rings. We have only limited data from sub-Saharan Africa, namely from Niger, Nigeria and Mali – we suppose there must be more colour ringed Spoonbills. If you have chance, please try to read the rings of Spoonbills in Africa, and help our project with sending your data for us.

Information about the used systems:

– European Colour-Ring Birding website (the link lists all colour-rings used in Spoonbill in Europe).

– Photo-Guide to Colour-Ringed Birds website (contains photographs of colour-ringed Spoonbills from different European ringing schemes).

Many thanks in advance for your help from Csaba Pigniczki, the coordinator of Hungarian Spoonbill Colour-ringing Project.

Recoveries of Eurasian Spoonbills ringed in Hungary (1908-2013)

Recoveries of Eurasian Spoonbills ringed in Hungary (1908-2013). Map: Hungarian Spoonbill Colour-ringing Project.

Colour-ringing a Eurasian Spoonbill nesting in Hungary

Colour-ringing a Eurasian Spoonbill nesting in Hungary (Photo: Dudás László)

Colour-ringed Eurasian Spoonbills recovered at Lake of Tunis, ZS is a Hungarian bird, the other from Serbia.

Colour-ringed Eurasian Spoonbills recovered at Lake of Tunis, ZS is a Hungarian bird, the other from Serbia. (Photo: Hichem Azafzaf, Association ‘Les Amis des Oiseaux‘ (AAO)