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Breeding biology and behavior of the plumbeous kite

Breeding biology and behavior of the plumbeous kite

Wilson Bulletin 110(1): 77-85, March

We studied Plumbeous Kites (Ictinia plumbea) in Tikal National Park, Peten, Guatemala, from 1991-1996. We documented productivity of 19 nesting attempts and studied behavior at six nests each during incubation and nestling periods. Nesting was highly synchronous among pairs, with eggs hatching late in the dry season and young fledging at the onset of the rainy season, a time of maximal prey abundance. Kites built stick nests high in exposed situations in living or dead trees, often reusing the same nest or a nearby alternate site in subsequent years. We observed only clutch sizes of one. Based on museum records, latitudinal variation in clutch size occurs, with single-egg clutches the norm except at the northern- and southernmost limits of the species' range, where two-egg clutches have been found. Fifty-eight percent of eggs hatched, and 64% of those resulted in fledged young, producing 0.37 fledglings per nesting attempt. Pair members shared incubation duties in a 60:40 ratio, and each adult caught its own food throughout the nesting cycle, differing from most raptors in these respects. We hypothesize that these patterns result from prey characteristics that make it inefficient for the male to provision the female at the nest. During incubation, one adult or the other was on the nest 97.8% of the time, and incubation shifts averaged 1.99 h. Two incubation periods were 32 and 33 days, and four nestlings fledged at an average age of 38.5 days. Similar to Mississippi Kites (Ictinia mississippiensis) in most regards, Plumbeous Kites laid a smaller clutch, and, unlike Mississippi Kites, held regularly-spaced breeding sites 0.5 km apart and exhibited intraspecific territorial behavior.

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Accession: 008245153

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DOI: 10.2307/4163900

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