Alberto Burquez

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Until the last decade there were no records of bird pollination in Europe (e.g., Proctor and Yeo 1973). Evidence of birds visiting flowers in Europe was collected by Ford (1985). He discussed the various hypotheses proposed to explain this apparent lack of passerine-bird pollination. In Europe the idea that birds visit flowers to catch insects or to eat fleshy parts of the flowers, rather than to drink nectar, is much more deeply ingrained than in any other region (e.g., Lowe 1896, Swynnerton 1916, Campbell 1963). This situation is similar to that prevalent in Australia ca. 15 yr ago, when most ornithologists thought that honeyeaters visited the flowers to eat in-sects rather than to drink nectar (H. A. Ford, pers. comm.) The behaviour of birds visiting flowers or exploiting new sources of food, such as the sap of dam-aged trees (Mylne 1959, Soper 1969), or milk in bottles (Fisher and Hinde 1949, Hinde and Fisher 1952), has been described as novel or unusual (Thorpe 1956). From the point of view of a floral ecologist, the development of new forms of search and the variation in the exploitation patterns are expected from a pollinator. Blue tits (Parus caeruleus) have been repeatedly recorded as flower visitors throughout Europe (e .g., Ford 1985, Kay 1985). They have been described as using a wide variety of habitats (Perrins 1979, Gibb 1954), and as resorting to new and unusual ways of foraging (Thorpe 1956, Fisher and Hinde 1949, Hinde and Fisher 1952).

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