Complementary Diet of Cathartes burrovianus (Cathartidae) With Fruit Elaeis guineensis (Arecaceae)

  •  José Batista-da-Silva    
  •  Antonio Souza    


The mangrove swamps of the Guapi-Mirim Environmental Protection Area are rich in animal diversity. Due to its considerable size there is a generous supply of prey for any predator as well as significant food resources for animal scavengers. The vultures, which are carrion or predatory birds are included in the order Cathartiformes (Cathartidae) and the most common species in Brazil are: Cathartes aura (Linnaeus, 1758), Cathartes burrovianus Cassin, 1845; Cathartes melambrotus Wetmore, 1964; Coragyps atratus (Bechstein, 1793) and Sarcoramphus papa (Linnaeus, 1758). In the mangrove swamps of this protected area three species of vultures are commonly seen: C. aura, C. burrovianus e C. atratus. These three species basically have a diet of animal carcasses. All the Cathartes burrovianus observations carried out in this study were made in a small part of the mangrove swamps in the Guapi-Mirim APA, located in the district of Itambi, Itaboraí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The observations were made every two weeks for a year and photography was used to record the birds. A total of 78 photographic observations were made of these birds (C. burrovianus) feeding on the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis Jacq. 1897. As the mangrove swamp has abundant food resources throughout the year, it was concluded that C. burrovianus feeds on the fruits of the palm E. guineensis not only as an alternative food in the absence of carcasses, but also a complement to their dietary needs. It is the first record of this feeding behavior. This fact may be related to the higher digestibility of carcasses consumed by these animals.

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