Working for birds in Africa

Some factors affecting Ring Ouzels wintering in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco

pp 60 - 74

This study aimed to shed light on the role of juniper berries as the principal food source for Ring Ouzels Turdus torquatus wintering in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. Of the two juniper species surveyed, Prickly Juniper Juniperus oxycedrus was the most widespread, but occurred at low densities in other types of woodland. Of 43 sites surveyed in the Middle and High Atlas, Ring Ouzels were only seen in or close to Phoenician Juniper J. phoenicea woodland. Although the number of ripe juniper berries in such woodland ranged from 2.7 x 104 to 2.6 x 106 per ha, the degree of damage to the trees from cutting, indicative of general levels of disturbance, appeared to be a stronger determinant of Ring Ouzel presence than did the number of berries. Juniper woodland encountered in this study was in a degraded and ageing state with no recruitment by younger trees, suggesting a long-term decline with potential implications for juniper availability and Ring Ouzel survival in the future.

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