We studied foraging ecology of Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) along the Tennessee River in west-central Tennessee during the breeding seasons of 1984-1987. We analyzed seven foraging variables to determine if this population exhibited annual variation in foraging behavior. Based on nearly 3,000 foraging maneuvers, most variables showed significant interyear variation during the four prenestling and three nestling periods we studied. This interyear variation probably was due -to proximate, environmental cues--such as distribution and abundance of arthropods--which, in turn, were influenced by local weather conditions. Researchers should consider the consequences of combining foraging behavior data collected in different years, because resolution of ecological trends may be sacrificed by considering only general patterns of foraging ecology and not the dynamics of those activities. In addition, because of annual variability, foraging data collected in only one year, regardless of the number of observations gathered, may not provide an accurate concept of the foraging ecology in insectivorous birds.
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Annual variation in foraging ecology of prothonotary warblers during the breeding season