Use of Arboreal Termitaria by Nesting Birds in the Peruvian Amazon
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I documented the use by nesting birds and availability of arboreal termite nests (termitaria) in the Peruvian Amazon. Birds occupy about 1% of the termitaria annually, suggesting that termitarium availability does not limit reproductive output. Birds choose termitaria that are larger and higher than average, and the three most common termitarium-nesting species differ in their use of termitaria. Two species of Brotogeris parakeets use termitaria with similar characteristics, but Tui Parakeets (B. sanctithomae) nest in young forests and edge habitats whereas Cobalt-winged Parakeets (B. cyanoptera) use mature forests. Termitaria used by Black-tailed Trogons (Trogon melanurus) are larger and lower than those used by the two Brotogeris species. The contention that birds usually nest in termitaria still occupied by termites was upheld, but the presence or absence of termites did not explain a significant proportion of the difference between used and available termitaria after removing the effects of height, volume, and substrate type. Birds choose to nest in termitaria inhabited by both termites and aggressive biting ants (Dolichoderus sp.). These ants may be protecting the birds' nests by attacking predators or by providing a sort of 'olfactory camouflage'.
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