Diurnal time-activity budgets were determined for wintering redheads (Aythya americana) from estuarine seagrass beds in Louisiana (Chandeleur Sound) and Texas (Laguna Madre) and from ponds adjacent to the Laguna Madre. Activities differed (p<0.0001) by location, month, and diurnal time period. Resting and feeding were the most frequent activities of redheads at the two estuarine sites, whereas drinking was almost nonexistent. Birds on ponds in Texas engaged most frequently in resting and drinking, but feeding was very infrequent. Redheads from the Louisiana estuarine site rested less than birds in Texas at either the Laguna Madre or freshwater ponds. Redheads in Louisiana fed more than birds in Texas; this was partially because of weather differences (colder temperatures in Louisiana), but the location effect was still significant even when we adjusted the model for weather effects. Redheads in Louisiana showed increased resting and decreased feeding as winter progressed, but redheads in Texas did not exhibit a seasonal pattern in either resting or feeding. In Louisiana, birds maintained a high level of feeding activity during the early morning throughout the winter, whereas afternoon feeding tapered off in mid- to late-winter. Texas birds showed a shift from morning feeding in early winter to afternoon feeding in late winter. Males and females at both Chandeleur Sound and Laguna Madre showed differences in their activities, but because the absolute difference seldom exceeded 2%, biological significance is questionable. Diurnal time-activity budgets of redheads on the wintering grounds are influenced by water salinities and the use of dietary fresh water, as well as by weather conditions, tides, and perhaps vegetation differences between sites. The opportunity to osmoregulate via dietary freshwater, vs. via nasal salt glands, may have a significant effect on behavioral allocations. ?? Springer 2006.
Additional publication details
Diurnal time-activity budgets of redheads (Aythya americana) wintering in seagrass beds and coastal ponds in Louisiana and Texas