The habitats and feeding stations of birds in Tsavo National Park, Kenya
The land-bird community of Tsavo East National Park was studied for two years. There are two wet seasons each year: November-December and April- May, but the latter were very poor in both study years. Six habitat types were designated on the basis of canopy cover of woody vegetation. Riverine vegetation was also studied. Most ofthe open habitats extant are derived from woodland by destruction of trees, a process largely caused by elephants. Food supplies are seasonally variable. Insects and grass seeds are most abundant in December and January. In the open habitats the few fruits also peak then, but Commiphora spp., which is only in woodland and is the most abundant fruit in Tsavo, peaks July to September. The ecology of each species of land-bird is described and most are found to be ecologically separate from each other. The annual cycle of numbers of birds in each habitat is closely correlated with the food supplies. In the open habitats birds are almost all insectivorous, granivorous or both, and peak numbers (about five times the dry season density) occur in December and January. In woodland, numbers remain fairly constant through the year and frugivores are more prominent, especially around August. The wet season peaks in all habitats are caused by immigrations of different species, both from elsewhere in Africa most of which come in to breed, and species which breed in the Palaearctic. The August peak in Woodland consists mainly of species which have resident populations. The results are particularly related to the recent habitat changes in the Park. They are compared with other bird studies in African savannas and other components of the Tsavo ecosystem. Finally, the means by which birds are able to survive in the harsh and unpredictable conditions of Tsavo are discussed.