Discussion and Correspondence Food of the Bobwhite

W. L. Mcatee
1910 Journal of Economic Entomology  
of the U. S. Biological Survey, except what is based on tests as to the choice of food by practically domesticated birds. For many reasons feeding e~periments with confined birds are useless as furnishing analogies to the conduct of individuals of the species under natural conditions. It is almost impossible wholly to remove the factor of human choice of the food. Moreover the usual change in amount of exertion by the birds, the absence of enemies, and other changed conditions make different
more » ... s make different impulses and behaviour almost unavoidable and certainly result in a different attitude toward food. There are no better illustrations of the effects of confinement than animals in zoological gardens. As is well known, very few of them get their natural diet and some, indeed, will not thrive on any thing like their natural food, or conversely, they do thrive on a regimen they never experience in nature. For instance, the anteaters and the solenodon in captivity subsist on hard boiled eggs. Is it not just as reasonable to draw an analogy here as in the case of quails fed clothes moths, mosquitos and house flies? A few instances from records of feeding experiments by the Biolog.;. ical Survey will further show the fallacy of basing conclusions as to economic value on the behaviour of captive birds. A shrike willingly devoured a goldfish and a black bass; items of food it probably never gets in the wild state. A bluejay refuse.d to eat acorns, dozens of which were found in collected stomachs; disdained beech nuts, another favorite natural food, and would not touch a live English sparrow nor· a mouse, though both birds and mice have been found in the stomachs of wild birds. A caged bluebird refused the ground beetle, Scarites subterraneus, but wild ones eat it. English sparrows would not eat dandelion heads, though free birds are' commonly observed rifling them of their seed. Bobwhites tested here refused plant lice; those tested by Mrs. Nice ate them freely. A confined song sparrow rejected
doi:10.1093/jee/3.5.437 fatcat:cq7dwbyqqzeoljhyfex744hijq