Wading bird (Ciconiiformes) nesting success is influenced by the availability of aquatic prey, but principle prey may differ among species. During an excellent nesting year (2009) 118 boluses were collected from nestlings of three species, White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) and Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) in a mixed colony in the northern Everglades. Although these species have similar foraging depths and foraging flight distances from nesting colonies, crayfish dominated the ibis boluses while small-bodied fishes dominated egret boluses. Fish prey species composition in Snowy Egret and Tricolored Heron boluses did not differ. Compared to available fish species from nearby wetlands, the Egretta spp. did not exhibit taxonomic selectivity but did feed selectively on larger (2–4 cm standard length) fish. Whether restoration activities in the Everglades, including hydroperiod lengthening, will simultaneously enhance prey for both invertivores like White Ibis and piscivores, such as the egrets, remains an open question.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1