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Regional and temporal variations in prey selected by Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos during the nestling period in Japan

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We examined regional and temporal variations in prey selection by Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos during the nestling period in Japan. We made direct video recordings of a pair of Golden Eagles in Akita prefecture as they delivered prey to the nest for two consecutive nestling periods. We also assembled data from previous studies in Japan, eventually obtaining 14 data sets with which we compared prey composition during nestling periods. Among them, four sets of data were recorded daily by video and used to investigate the temporal change in prey selection and the amount delivered to the nest. The prey item composition varied considerably among the data sets. Japanese Hares Lepus brachyurus were predominantly selected in three data sets, reflecting the lowest dietary breadths that were determined by prey composition. Data sets with higher dietary breadths consisted mainly of Japanese Hares, snakes and Copper Pheasants Syrmaticus soemmerringii. Temporal change in prey selection during nestling periods showed marked variation, but similarities were found in later deliveries of snakes and in total prey weights (83.7–89.9 kg) delivered to successfully fledged broods. Taken together, our results suggest that during nestling periods Golden Eagles in Japan specialized on Japanese Hare. Diet breadth increased through feeding predominantly on snakes, a temporarily available prey, to satisfy the breeding dietary requirement. Regionally varied temporal prey selection may be a key factor for sustaining Eagle populations in the forested mountain habitats of Japan, where prey and habitat conditions change dramatically during the breeding season.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, N10W5 Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-0810, Japan 2: Environmental Science Research Laboratory, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, and 3: Civil Engineering Research & Environmental Studies, 1646 Abiko, Abiko-shi, Chiba-ken 270-1194, Japan

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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