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Breeding ecology of farmland Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella

Breeding ecology of farmland Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella

Bird Study. 45(1): 109-121, Ch

Observations of Yellowhammers flying from nests to foraging sites were used to assess use of foraging habitats in relation to availability. Selection of invertebrates by foraging Yellowhammers was studied using analysis of nestling faecal samples in relation to invertebrate samples taken from farmland habitats. Both data sets were analysed using compositional analysis. Broad-leaved crops and sparsely vegetated areas were favoured early in the breeding season, but cereal crops were increasingly used as these ripened. Unripe cereal grain formed a major component of nestling diet, but invertebrates were fed to all broods. Lepidoptera larvae, Araneae and Tipulidae were consumed more than other invertebrate groups. Nestling mortality was high during cold weather when these invertebrates would have been inactive. We suggest that farming systems that increase habitat diversity and reduce pesticide application to arable crops will benefit Yellowhammers and other farmland buntings.

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Accession: 008245306

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DOI: 10.1080/00063659809461084

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