Behavioral aspects of waterbirds

Braz J Biol. 2021 Jan-Feb;81(1):164-177. doi: 10.1590/1519-6984.225048.


Estuaries are used by waterbirds as foraging, resting and nesting sites, serving also as shelter for migratory birds. The dynamics of this avifauna in an aquatic environment may be associated with the differences of time of day, tide height, temperature, wind speed and use of the site by different species. This study had the objective of evaluating behavioral aspects of aquatic birds, relating the influence of environmental variables with their activities. Bird counts were performed at the mouth of two important rivers of the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, during two-hour intervals throughout the day in monthly samplings between June (2015) and May (2016). A total of 44 species were recorded, ten of which were migratory. The most recorded behaviors were foraging and resting. The Kruskal-Wallis analysis indicated no significant difference in behavior between the sampling intervals. The Bray-Curtis similarity test resulted in three groups: 1) - species that foraged most of the time; 2) - species that rested most of the time; and 3) - same time in both activities. The Indicator Species Analysis showed that 17 species were associated with only one microhabitat and 15 species with more than one. The Canonical Correlation Analysis indicated that only tide height, temperature and rainfall variables were correlated with the behaviors performed and only the resting activity was positively correlated with all variables. This may be associated with thermoregulation and the ability of some species to stay in midlitoral at high tide. The results demonstrate that different waterbird species used the studied areas in different ways. Thus, the heterogeneity of microhabitats in an aquatic environment of extreme importance for the coexistence and maintenance of the diversity of waterbirds.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds*
  • Brazil
  • Estuaries
  • Rivers*