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1 January 2011 Flexibility of Foraging Behavior in Hummingbirds: The Role of Energy Constraints and Cognitive Abilities
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We assessed how individual foraging preferences and cognitive performance affect foraging bout interval and the flexibility of foraging behavior in the nectarivorous Green-backed Firecrown (Sephanoides sephaniodes). Our field experiment evaluated the ability of these hummingbirds to recall nectar-renewal rates in two groups of artificial flowers with the same nectar concentration in the absence of visual cues. In a second experiment, we assessed their ability to remember differences in nectar quality combined with different nectar-renewal intervals, given artificial flowers with identical visual cues. Our results indicate that Green-backed Firecrowns adjusted their foraging intervals according to nectar-renewal rates and, furthermore, that birds were able to recall nectar concentration as well as nectar-renewal rate. Individual differences in memory performance resulted in differences in energy intake. These results strongly suggest that individual preferences and individual cognitive performance could play a central role in energy intake and, therefore, in the probability of survival.

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Paulina L. González-Gómez, Rodrigo A. Vásquez, and Francisco Bozinovic "Flexibility of Foraging Behavior in Hummingbirds: The Role of Energy Constraints and Cognitive Abilities," The Auk 128(1), (1 January 2011).
Received: 30 September 2009; Accepted: 1 October 2010; Published: 1 January 2011

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