Food availability and acquisition are critical components of a stopover site's suitability, but we know relatively little about how changes in food availability affect the stopover ecology of migrating landbirds. We examined fruit and arthropod availability in three habitats, studied foraging behavior and diet, and investigated use versus availability for passerines migrating through southwestern Idaho in autumn. Hemiptera dominated foliage-dwelling arthropod communities in all three habitats, whereas Hymenoptera were most numerous among ground-dwelling arthropods. Mountain shrubland had relatively high biomass of both ground-dwelling and foliage-dwelling arthropods, whereas conifer forest had high biomass of foliage-dwelling arthropods only and shrub steppe had high biomass of ground-dwelling arthropods only. Species' foraging behavior varied, but most species foraged in mountain shrubland more often than expected by chance. Diets of most species included a high proportion of certain Hemiptera and Hymenoptera with smaller proportions of Coleoptera, Diptera, and Heteroptera; Coleoptera and some Hemiptera were consistently preferred by most species. Importantly, all 19 bird species examined consumed some fruit, and this is the first documentation of frugivory for two warbler species. These data point to the importance of several arthropod taxa, especially the Hemiptera and Hymenoptera, and fruits to landbirds migrating in mountain shrubland in autumn. Finally, we found no effect of annual variation of fruit or arthropod abundance on migrants' energetic condition, suggesting that food was sufficient for mass gain in all years of this study and/or that foraging behavior may be plastic enough to allow birds to gain mass despite annual differences in food availability.
Carlisle, Jay D.; Olmstead, Karen L.; Richart, Casey H.; and Swanson, David L.. (2012). "Food Availability, Foraging Behavior, and Diet of Autumn Migrant Landbirds in the Boise Foothills of Southwestern Idaho". The Condor, 114(3), 449-461. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/cond.2012.100209