Food niche segregation between the Malachite Kingfisher, Alcedo cristata, and the Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis, at Lake Nokoué, Bénin

University of Liège, Luik, Walloon, Belgium
Ostrich - Journal of African Ornithology (Impact Factor: 0.41). 11/2009; March 1(1-2):32-38. DOI: 10.2989/00306520409485409


Several species of kingfisher occur on Lake Nokoué, southern Bénin, including Malachite (Alcedo cristata) and Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis). Here, we compare their diet and estimate the degree of overlap in food niche by analysing contents of regurgitated pellets collected near nesting sites of Pied Kingfishers or inside the nest chambers of Malachite Kingfishers. Characteristic fish skull bones were identified using a reference collection of local fish skeletons. Malachite Kingfishers feed most frequently on fish that occur around floating vegetation, mainly Kribia sp. (56%), Hemichromis fasciatus (28%) and Sarotherodon melanotheron (8%). Important differences were found between different pairs, and between adults and nestlings, the latter being fed almost exclusively on Kribia sp. Larger fish are fed to nestlings than are eaten by the adults. Pied Kingfishers prey upon 14 different fish species, some of them being caught in the pelagic region of the lake, particularly clupeids taken by hovering. By comparison with Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers feed on a wider diversity of prey, and take larger fish, so that the dietary overlap between the species is relatively low (O = 0.181).

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