Are the Low Protein Requirements of Nectarivorous Birds the Consequence of Their Sugary and Watery Diet?: A Test with an Omnivore
Nectar-feeding birds have remarkably low nitrogen requirements. These may be due either to adaptation to a low-protein diet or simply to feeding on a fluid diet that minimizes metabolic fecal nitrogen losses. We measured minimal nitrogen requirements (MNR) and total endogenous nitrogen loss (TENL) in the omnivorous European starling Sturnus vulgaris, fed on an artificial nectar-like fluid diet of varying concentrations of sugar and protein. The MNR and TENL of the birds were similar and even slightly higher than allometrically expected values for birds of the starlings' mass (140% and 103%, ...
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