PREY OF THE WHITE-TAILED KITE IN CENTRAL CHILE AND ITS RELATION TO THE HUNTING HABITAT

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) Science Article 3

abstract

Between November 1973 and January 1974 we collected 702 pellets of Whitetailed Kites (Elanus lecurus) in two areas of central Chile differing in their vegetation physiognomy (disturbed versus undisturbed). We compared the diversity, age structure, and mean prey size of items found in pelletsf rom both simmTs.h ere were noticeabled ifferencesi n the diversity of prey consumed by kites in the two areas. The smallest prey taken was the house mouse (17 g), the largest, juvenile norway rats (160 g); these figures represent 5.6-52.9% of Chilean kites’ weight (302.2 g). Mean size of prey taken in the disturbed site was about 25% smaller than in the undisturbed area. White-tailed Kites were much more abundant in disturbed areas, in spite of the relatively smaller prey-size distribution available. We propose that disturbed habitats generated by human activities are more profitable to the kites in terms of greater prey abundance, higher prey vulnerability, or both.

ROBERTO SCHLATTER, BENIGNO TORO et al, The Auk 97: 186-190. January 1980

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