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Additions, deletions and corrections to the breeding avifauna of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with comments on average clutch size trends and demographic influences

  • Journal Title: Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
  • Volume: Volume 1
  • Issue: 
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 133  - 164
  • Authors:  G.B.P. Davies;
  • ISSN: 22204563
  • Abstract:  KwaZulu-Natal has a rich breeding avifauna relative to the other eight South African provinces, but a review of the subject has been lacking since Dean (1971). An opportunity is taken here to update Dean's (1971) list of breeding birds, principally using data from the published literature. Fifty-eight species with confirmed breeding episodes within the province are added, one species deleted and the equivocal status of seven species clarified. The total breeding species in KwaZulu-Natal now stands at 465, or approximately 66% of the total avifauna. Three alien species (house crow, Corvus splendens; rose-ringed parakeet Psittacula krameri; and common starling, Sturnus vulgaris) have established breeding populations in KwaZulu-Natal since 1971, and a fourth alien species (rosy-faced lovebird Agapornis roseicollis) may also have established a self-sustaining breeding population. A list of 29 species without breeding evidence, but which are suspected to breed at least occasionally within the province, is included. Significant additions are also made to list of host species for brood-parasitic cuckoos and honey guides, including nine new provincial hosts for red-chested cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius) and seven new hosts for Klaas's cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas). Attention is also drawn to the first confirmed parasitism records of black-throated wattle-eye (Platysteira peltata) by Klaas's cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas) and striped pipit (Anthus lineiventris) by red-chested cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius) in southern Africa; these records have been overlooked by authoritative publications. Amongst KwaZulu-Natal passerines there is a preponderance of C/2 and C/3 clutches (range C/1-C/9) and generally mean clutch-sizes are smaller in KwaZulu-Natal than at lower latitudes in Africa. Non-passerines also have a predominance of C/2 and C/3 clutches (but with a wider range than passerines, up to 13-14 eggs in some ducks and guineafowl). Within KwaZulu-Natal, notable differences in average clutch size exist between different genera and species with similar feeding habits and body size; the reasons for these differences are suggested to stem from demographic differences using theory outlined by B.G. Murray (1979 et seq.). Murray's demographic approach is also used to propose an explanation for Cope's Rule in palaeontology, differential overwintering by Palaearctic waders in KwaZulu-Natal and the polygynous mating system of red bishop (Euplectes orix).
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