Determination of the diet of the stone curlew (Bwhinus oedicnemus) by faecal analysis



The value of faecal analysis for estimating the composition of the diet of stone curlews was assessed by examination of the faeces of a captive bird fed on a measured diet. Remains of soft–bodied prey were under–represented in the faeces but the results could be adjusted to allow for this. Estimation of the size of prey was possible by measurement of remnants such as earthworm chaetae and insect mandibles. In some types of prey large specimens left more remnants than small ones and a correction was devised to allow for this. Regurgitated pellets contained large, hard remains and there was no trace of some important prey types such as earthworms. A method is described for estimating the composition of the diet of the wild stone curlews from counts of prey remains in their faeces.