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Consistent differences in feeding habits between neighbouring breeding kestrels

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In this study, we analysed the diet of breeding kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) in a Mediterranean area with the aim to evaluate the relative importance of both hunting area and individual feeding behaviour as factors affecting prey selection. Differently from the populations from middle and northern Europe which primarily feed on voles, the kestrels breeding in the Mediterranean region showed a wider diet composition. As expected, hunting area features influenced the diet composition and, in general, the kestrels were feeding on what was locally more abundant. However, we detected consistent differences in the diet composition between neighbouring breeding pairs which were also maintained in subsequent years. Since the neighbouring birds were sharing the same hunting grounds, the differences observed were likely to reflect individual preferences or capabilities in catching some prey type regardless of their actual availability. The presence of differences in diet composition between neighbouring pairs and their temporal consistency suggests that the hunting skills, and in general the feeding behaviour of kestrels, is likely to represent a trait characterising a behavioural type.


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