Goshawk Accipiter gentilis predation on homing pigeons in northern Jutland Duehogens Accipiter gentilis praedation pa brevduer i Vendsyssel
Nielsen, Jan Tottrup.
Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift 924: 327-332
Based on prey items and homing pigeon rings found in Goshawk territories during 21 years in a 2417 km2 study area in northern Jutland, the predation on horning pigeons by Goshawks was investigated. A total of 19670 prey animals were identified at Goshawk nest sites during the breeding season (March-July), together with 560 rings from homing pigeons. Outside the breeding season or areas, 5577 prey items were recorded. There were 324 members of the Danish Homing Pigeon Club (DdB) in the study area at the end of the study, with a total of about 12000 pigeons. Late in summer that would mean c. 26000 pigeons (10.8 per km2) in the area. Overall, the proportion of domestic pigeons in the diet of Goshawks was 21% (Tab. 1), declining during the study period (Fig. 2). However, the total number of pigeons killed probably did not change since the Goshawk population increased from 31 pairs in 1977 to 70 in the 1990s. If pigeons belonging to pigeon lofts more than 6 km from the Goshawk nests where they were found are assumed to have been taken during flights, 81% of the pigeons were killed during flights and 19% while staying near the loft. The mean age of the killed pigeons was 1.33 +- 1.57 (SD) years, and 73% of them were at most 16 months old (Tab. 3). Pigeons killed near the loft were significantly younger than those killed during flights (1.24 and 1.36 years, respectively; U=24419, p < 0.05).