We experimentally reduced the food base of nesting Brewer's Sparrows (Spizella breweri) and Sage Thrashers (Oreoscoptes montanus) in a shrubsteppe region of south central Idaho in 1989 and 1990. Frequency and mass of "birdfood" arthropods in pitfall, sweep net, and stickyboard samples were generally lower on sites treated with a broad-spectrum insecticide (malathion) than on untreated sites though the effect varied among taxa. In 1990 O. montanus switched nestling diets to prey taxa not affected by the treatment. Time between nestling food deliveries was greater for S. breweri on the treated than untreated site in 1989. In 1990 there were no between-site differences, but there was an increase in delivery time on the treated plot after treatment; this difference was within the range of delivery times recorded on the untreated plot. Malathion applications did reduce the food base, but plasticity in passerine behavior and emergence characteristics of some prey taxa ameliorated indirect effects of food reduction to birds.
Howe, Frank P.; Knight, Richard L.; McEwen, Lowell C.; and George, T. Luke
"Diet switching and food delivery by shrubsteppe passerines in response to an experimental reduction in food,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 60:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol60/iss2/4