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Breeding season diet of the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor in forested habitats of southern Westphalia, Germany



Breeding season diet of the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor in forested habitats of southern Westphalia, Germany



Vogelwelt 115(4): 179-184



During the years 1990 to 1992 the diet of Great Grey Shrikes was studied in nine breeding territories in the district of "Siegerland", southern Westphalia, Germany (altitude 480-620 m). This largely forested region was colonized by Great Grey Shrikes only recently when suitable open habitat became available through storm damage and clear-cutting. The 395 pellets investigated contained remains of 819 prey organisms, which consisted of 80% arthropods and 20% vertebrates. Most of the prey species are typical of forests. On average a pellet contained 2.1 prey items corresponding to an average prey mass of 8.8 g. With respect to prey biomass, Bank Voles Clethrionomys glareolus and Common Lizards Lacerta vivipara together amounted to 68% of the diet, insects comprised only 6.3%. Despite the relatively high effort to hunt them, insects might be an essential component of the diet for physiological reasons. The habitat type of Great Grey Shrike studied here will probably increase in importance because traditional habitats (bogs, non-intensively used pastures) have decreased. On forest clearings shrikes are less dependent on cyclic changes in vole abundance and may be able to maintain more stable populations.

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