We measured metabolizable energy and digestibility of Whooping Crane (Grus americana) winter foods (blue crab [Callinectes sapidus]), common Rangia clam (Rangia cuneata), wolfberry fruit (Lycium carolinianurn [wolfberry]), and live oak acorn (Ouercus virginiana [acorn])] with feeding trials to captive-reared Whooping Cranes. Apparent metabolizable energy coefficients (expressed as %) were for crab (34.1), Rangia clam (75.0), wolfberry (44.8), and acorn (43.2). Digestion coefficients for protein were lower for plant foods (48.9 and 53.4) than for animal foods (69.4 and 75.2). Digestion coefficients for total lipid differed among foods: highest and lowest lipid digestibility was for acorn (87.2) and wolfberry (60.0), respectively. We also determined total energy and percent protein and lipid of the four foods and stout razor clam (Tagelus plebeius); gross energy was 2-5x higher for acorn and wolfberry on a dry-weight basis than for blue crab and stout razor clam. Crude protein was 2-3x higher for blue crab than for wolfberry and stout razor clam. Wolfberry ranked the highest of five foods for metabolic energy and total lipid nutrient availability per kg of food ingested, and blue crab ranked highest for crude protein availability.
Additional publication details
Nutritional value of winter foods for whooping cranes