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The Goshawk Accipiter gentilis in Wigry National Park (NE Poland) - numbers, breeding results, diet composition and prey selection



The Goshawk Accipiter gentilis in Wigry National Park (NE Poland) - numbers, breeding results, diet composition and prey selection



Acta Ornithologica (Warsaw): 333-4: 181-190



The population of Goshawks in Wigry National Park was studied in the years 1989-97. The number of breeding pairs nesting was in the range 8-11, giving a density of 6.0-7.3 (mean 6.7) per 100 km2, or 8.0-11.0 (mean 9.5) per 100 km2 of forest area. 69% of broods were successful, mean clutch size was 3.1 and the production of young was at 2.7 per successful pair or 1.9 per pair overall. Food taken in the breeding season was studied by collecting pellets and prey remains from nests and the ground beneath. Prey were identified from fragments of feathers, fur or bones, and food biomass estimated by multiplying the number of prey items of a given species by a mean mass. 1539 prey items with a total biomass of 332 kg were identified. Birds accounted for 94% of prey in terms of number of items and 92% in terms of biomass. The most frequent prey species were Jays Garrulus glandarius (19% of prey items), pigeons Columba spp. (18%), thrushes Turdus spp. (14%) and woodpeckers Picidae (6%). The greatest shares of biomass were taken by pigeons - 35%, Jays - 16%, hens - 15%, field corvids - 5% and hares Lepus sp. - 4%. The most significant influences on the diet composition of a given pair were distances from the forest edge and from villages. Birds nesting in the forest interior took less advantage of Feral Pigeons and hens as prey. An avifaunal count using a combined-variant cartographic method was followed by the use of Ivlev's selectivity index to assess the predation pressure exerted by Goshawks on wild species of bird. This revealed greatest selective preferences towards Jays, field corvids, woodpeckers and thrushes as prey.

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Accession: 011468507

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