To address whether foraging strategies affect habitat-use patterns of nonbreeding warblers, I quantified foraging behavior, bill dimensions, and diet (based on regurgitation samples) of Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapillus) and Swainson's Warblers (Limnothlypis swainsonii) wintering in three habitats in Jamaica. Ovenbirds primarily gleaned prey from the surface of the leaf litter (95% of foraging maneuvers), resulting in a diet comprised predominantly of ants (62% of all prey items), seeds (18%), and beetles (9%). Swainson's Warblers foraged by lifting leaves (80% of foraging maneuvers), resulting in a significantly different diet dominated by beetles (39%), spiders (22%), and ants (19%). More than 60% of the regurgitation samples from Swainson's Warblers contained orthopterans and/or gecko (Sphaerodactylus goniorhynchus) bones. Averaged across all habitat types, Ovenbirds consumed ants in direct proportion to their abundance based on visual counts of arthropods. Swainson's Warblers consumed beetles more than expected based on the abundance of beetles in visual counts and Berlese funnels. The use of a diversity of habitats by Ovenbirds may be related to their ability to feed opportunistically on ants, which are a widespread, abundant, and reliable resource. In contrast, based on their foraging behavior and diet, Swainson's Warblers may be restricted to habitats with a well-developed canopy and an abundant subsurface leaf-litter fauna.
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