Relações alimentares de aves com capivaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) em parque urbano no Sudeste do Brasil
Feeding relationships of birds with mammals are diverse and range from using mammals as hunting perches to feeding on their carcasses. We studied the natural history of associations between birds and capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) at an urban recreational park and focused on three main questions: (1) How many and what are the bird species that associate with capybaras? (2) What resources used by the birds are provided by capybaras? (3) What are the behaviours of birds and capybaras during the different associations? Additionally, we summarised the associations of birds with capybaras recorded to date, which include commensal, mutualistic and semi parasitic relationships. We recorded 10 bird species (mostly non-passerines) associated with capybaras. The birds used the capybaras as: (a) hunting perches; (b) beaters that flushed arthropods and fish; (c) attractors of flies; (d) sources of organic particles, external parasites, blood, diseased tissue, and carcasses. Birds and capybaras interacted mostly when the former picked ticks, or fed on blood and diseased tissue. When the birds picked ticks, the capybaras adopted poses that allowed the birds to reach body parts otherwise inaccessible. However, when the birds pecked at wounds to take blood or diseased tissue, the mammals tried to discourage the birds with avoidance movements of the body or head, and sometimes retreated. When the birds used the capybaras as perches or attractors, the mammals seemed oblivious to the birds’ presence. Twenty-one bird species are presently reported to associate with capybaras. Thus, the numbers we found in the urban and restricted study site are remarkable, and our findings strengthens the importance of so-called green areas to harbour the remaining wildlife in our increasingly anthropised environment.
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