Urban avifauna diversity in Stellenbosch, South Africa, during the COVID-19 lockdown and observations of inner-city foraging behaviour
In times of isolation or confinement, making regular natural history observations can not only represent a source of enjoyment, but generates insights into local avian ecology. Here we present an account of the urban bird diversity of Stellenbosch, South Africa, derived from daily observations of species presence collected during the initial two stages of the country’s nationwide COVID-19 lockdown period (66 days). A total of 38 bird species were observed during this time, including sightings of urban hunting behavior for birds of prey and greenspace foraging in general. The most commonly seen taxa were typical human-commensal species, including sparrows and doves. Many species were encountered far less frequently, with 21 of the 38 species being observed on less than 10 days. This was most notable for birds of prey (n = 6 species from Accipitriformes and Falconiformes) or African swifts (n = 2 species from Apodiformes), which were recorded only a few times for any given species. Our account provides some relatively niche information regarding the presence of birds from a single city block in South Africa and notes interesting observations of urban foraging behaviour, but also underscores the value of birdwatching during times of uncertainty.
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Copyright (c) 2022 James Baxter-Gilbert, Julia L. Riley
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