Characterization of foraging-site preferences of threatened and endangered species is a key component of effective habitat conservation. We studied foraging-site selection by the brown eared pheasant (Crossoptilon mantchuricum) in the Huanglongshan Nature Reserve, Yanan City, Shaanxi Province, China, from early February to end of May 2011. We identified feeding sites by locating tracks and scratches characteristic of the birds, and compared habitat characteristics at these sites to those at randomly selected sites across the study area. During the pre-breeding season, the birds tended to be found in the areas characterized by gullies within mixed forests with intermediate sun exposure on gentle slopes (< 10°), and close to water and footpaths. The sites utilized by the birds also featured greater tree diameter, lower shrub density, lower grass cover, and lower altitude than random sites. During the breeding season, the birds tended to be found in the areas of slightly higher altitude, more shrubs, moderately steep slopes (10°–20°), and farther from water and paths. These patterns were consistent with seasonal changes in vegetation and food-resource availability in the study area. Management of brown eared pheasants' populations for conservation must account for these seasonal shifts in habitat requirements.
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Vol. 31 • No. 8