Diet and food selection of a pair of Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) in the Pyrenees during the breeding season

Authors: MARGALIDA, A. and BERTRAN, J.

Published: Volume 44(2), December 1997. Pages 191-197.

Language: Spanish

Original Title: Dieta y selección de alimento de una pareja de Quebrantahuesos (Gypaetus barbatus) en los Pirineos durante la crianza

Keywords: Bearded Vulture, breeding season, diet, food selection, Gypaetus barbatus and Pyrenees

Summary:

We studied the diet of a pair of Bearded Vultures during the breeding season, as well as their selection of food regarding the carcasses theoretically available within the home range of the pair. The methodology used was based on direct observations of the prey brought to the nest, given that the collection of remains at nest overestimates the importance of big bones and that the analysis of pellets (which are scarce and occasionally recycled) tends to underestimate the importance of large prey. Food availability was estimated from the mortality rates of the species of livestock present in the home range of the pair. Such livestock species accounted for 90% of the consumed prey. Sheep and goats accounted for 59% of the 64 prey which could be identified. Domestic rabbits accounted for a further 25%, cows and mares 3%, an pigs 3%. Only 51% of the prey delivered to the nest (n = 75) were bones. The pair selected sheeps, goats and domestic rabbits, and tended to avoid cows, mares and pigs. Patterns of food selection appeared to be conditioned by the biomass provided by each prey type, as well as by the mean body size and predictability of such prey. Nevertheless, the likely differences in diet between the breeding season and the rest of the year cycle should be taken into account.

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