Food habits of the Red Kite in Doñana during the breeding period

Authors: DELIBES, M. and GARCÍA, L.

Published: Volume 31(1), June 1984. Pages 115-121.

Language: Spanish

Original Title: HÁbitos alimenticios del Milano Real en Doñana durante el periodo de cría


The food habits of eight breeding pairs of Red Kite and their chicks in Doñana are studied using 271 prey remains and 427 occurrences in 211 pellets. All the data have been pooled, summing 698 items. The diet consists mainly of mammals (34.4%), birds (33.2%) and reptiles (17.8%). On a species level, rabbits are the main prey (28.5%), followed by ducks (9.9%), mostly mallards, coots (8.9%) and ocellated lizards (8.5%) (Tab. I). Most of the rabbits consumed and all the coots are young or subadult. Ducks and lizards are usually adults. Sometimes the red kites are seen robbing prey from other raptors. The food of the pair nesting by the edge of the marsh basically consists of aquatic birds, while the pairs nesting in isolated pine or cork-oak tree groves in the middle of scrub, eat rabbits and reptiles (Fig. 1). The outbreak of mixomatosis does not seem to have produced any functional response in the red kites breeders in Doñana, while on the other hand their number is steadily increasing. With respect to other European areas, a greater proportional use of reptiles and a lesser one of small mammals can be observed in red kites breeding in Mediterranean localities and both tendencies are well known in other birds of prey.

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