The temporal patterns of feeding, resting, and reproductive behavior in colonial wading birds have been studied by a number of investigators, both on a short-term (daily) and long-term (annual) basis. In coastal marine environments, activities at colonies are influenced by tides, time of day and phase of the nesting cycle. The purpose of this paper is twofold: (1) to examine the effects of tide, time of day (physical factors), nesting phase, colony site, and species identity (biological factors) on feeding flight rates at breeding colonies and, as a result of this, (2) to evaluate the usefulness of feeding flight counts as an index of the number of nests in the colony. Earlier work suggests that the relationship between the number of individuals flying to and from the nesting colony may be quite consistent with nest numbers. Thus, by monitoring flights from remote locations, observers might obtain relatively accurate census data while minimizing time and disturbance at colonies. Recent concern for the deleterious impact of humans at waterbird colonies underscores the need to investigate alternative census methods.
Additional publication details
Multiple-factor influences upon feeding flight rates at wading bird colonies (Alias: Are flight-line counts useful?)