VAN NUS T & KLEEFSTRA R (2017) Spring and summer diet of Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus on two eastern Dutch Wadden Sea islands in relation to food availability. LIMOSA 90 (1): 13-24.
Since 2006 a growing number of Peregrine Falcons breed
annually on the eastern Dutch Wadden Sea islands. In spring
and summer 2013 and 2014, their diet was studied on the
islands of Rottumeroog and Rottumerplaat by collecting
prey remains and pellets, and by observing hunting flights.
Diet was compared to the availability of potential bird
preys, as derived from high tide roost counts of waterbirds,
additional sightings of (migrating) birds and surveys of
Throughout spring and summer, about a quarter of the
Peregrine Falcon diet consisted of waders, with a preference
for medium sized species (c. 125-300 g; Grey Plover, Red
Knot, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit) and large waders (>300
g; Oystercatcher, Curlew, Whimbrel, Woodcock). In spring,
when numbers of waders peaked, waders were the main prey
item on both islands. The proportion of waders in the diet
was nevertheless considered to be surprisingly low given
the large number of waders present on the high tide roosts.
Also gulls and ducks were taken relatively seldom, given the
fact that these species groups together represented about
half of the available prey at the island.
In summer, and especially in the period when food availability
was lowest, pigeons and also passerine birds were important
prey for the falcons on the islands. Strikingly, on both islands,
about a third of the entire diet during spring and summer
consisted of, mainly domesticated, pigeons. Judging from
the pigeon rings found in the pellets, and from the weekly
appearance of pigeons during weekends, the great majority
of these birds will have been homing pigeons. Diet studies
in Great Britain, the southwest Dutch Delta and the German
Wadden Sea also show that domesticated pigeons are
a main prey for breeding Peregrine Falcons. For remote,
uninhabited islands like Rottumeroog and Rottumerplaat
this was an unexpected finding.
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