Ardea
Official journal of the Netherlands Ornithologists' Union

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Sutton L.J. & Loram S.W. (2022) Diet specialization in an insular population of coastal Peregrine Falcons. ARDEA 110 (2): 5-5
Individual diet specialization is known to occur in populations of generalist predators, where specific individuals develop specialist feeding strategies. Diet specialization has been reported in many raptor species and it may be an important driver of intraspecific population structure. Here, we quantify the diet of Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus from five breeding territories on an island determined from prey remains collected over four breeding seasons. Three prey species accounted for 69.8% of total prey frequency, with Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus being the primary prey accounting for 47.3% by frequency and 40.8% by biomass. European Herring Gull Larus argentatus was the second most important prey species by frequency (13.8%) and biomass (29.8%) followed by Feral Pigeon Columba livia (frequency: 8.7%, biomass: 7.0%). Prey frequency on specific prey groups varied substantially between breeding pairs and months. Two pairs specialized on Manx Shearwater, one pair specialized on Herring Gull and Manx Shearwater, with the remaining two pairs having a relatively generalist diet of Manx Shearwaters, Feral Pigeon and small passerines. Prey frequency on Manx Shearwaters increased throughout the breeding season with a peak in total diet frequency of 63.8% in July, with a concurrent decrease in Herring Gull prey frequency. Higher percentage of Manx Shearwater in the diet explained 87% of the variation in a narrower dietary breadth for the Peregrine pairs. Our results suggest individual diet specialization may be one of multiple factors important for understanding population density in insular raptor populations.


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