Though an important measure for ecological studies, obtaining foraging data through direct observation is rarely assessed independently. Using field measurements (foraging habitat, food acquisition behavior, and food manipulation time), the summer diet of Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) in Wisconsin, USA, was determined; foods consumed based on foraging behavior were identified; and ingestion for Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) was assessed. Based on 102 observations, Whooping Cranes occupying six territories consumed 17 food items (verified with images), of which 90 samples from nine foods were modeled. Food manipulation time predicted food size: ln(y) = 3.50 0.45ln(x) - 0.05 ln(x2) (r2 = 0.63, P< 0.001). Classification tree analysis identified consumed food using foraging behavior (error rate = 17%). A schematic model with the same three behavioral variables and an additional variable of direct observation identified 93% of 90 items. With Sandhill Cranes, observed swallows predicted actual swallows (y = 1.12x - 6.18 (r2 = 0.85, 95% CI of slope = 0.79 to 1.45, 95% CI of y-intercept = -50.55 to 38.19)). Field observation of diet and ingestion can be applied to any bird species that uses open habitats where food acquisition behavior and food size vary enough to inform models of foraging behavior.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1