In December 1996/January 1997, we studied the distribution of foraging sites of a guild of 5 species of birds (from larger to smaller: Sitta europaea, Parus varius, P. major, P. palustris, P. ater, Aegithalos caudatus) wintering in Korea. Correlations between body size and the use of foraging sites in trees are well described for European tits. Our results indicate that similar correlations exist in this Korean guild. There were significant differences among species in frequency of use of five foraging site categories in trees: trunks, branches, twigs, leaves, needles. The larger the species, the more often it used trunks and branches for foraging. There was a positive correlation between body-size difference and the difference in the foraging sites between species, indicating that species of similar body sizes foraged in similar sites in trees. For four species not specialized in using conifers (Parus varius, P. major, P. palustris, Aegithalos caudatus), there was a negative correlation between body size difference between species and the difference in the frequency of foraging in conifers, suggesting that birds of similar body sizes foraged in different tree species. We suggest a possible role of dominance in creating this relationship. This is one of the few reports of foraging niche differences among tits in temperate forests in Asia. This report is important in that it shows, for the first time, foraging niche differences in a previously unstudied guild of tits, and that the differences are correlated with size differences, just as in the well studied guild of tits in Europe.
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|Published - 1999