The rates at which birds visit fruiting individuals of Allophylus edulis (Sapindaceae) differ substantially among trees. Such avian feeding preferences are well-known, but usually involve fruits and trees of different species. Factors controlling avian preferences for particular trees in a population of conspecifics are generally undocumented. To address this issue, I attempted to correlate rates at which individual birds and species fed in trees of Allophylus with 27 fruit or plant characteristics. Birds that swallow fruits whole were considered separately from those that feed in other ways. Plant characters were selected on the basis of their potential influence on feeding efficiency or predation risk, assuming that birds would select feeding trees so as to maximize the net rate of energy or nutrient intake and to minimize predation. Correlations were found between feeding visits by some groups of birds and percent water in the pulp, milligrams of mineral ash in the pulp, and crop size. No character was correlated with feeding visits by all groups of birds in both years of the study. The correlations with water and mineral ash are unexplained and may be artifacts. The correlation with crop size may represent a tactic to minimize predation.
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Factors influencing bird foraging preferences among conspecific fruit trees