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Habitat use and hunting behaviour of Common Buzzards Buteo buteo wintering in south-western Poland

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During seven winter seasons (1993/1994–1999/2000) 107 roadside counts (28 km each) in agricultural area of south-western Poland were conducted. From among 1526 Buzzards, 1293 were recorded in winter months (November–February) and 233 in March. Birds were non-randomly distributed on nine vegetation types met along the transect route. Permanent papilionaceous crops, along with cereal stubbles, margin habitats, meadows and maize stubbles were preferentially used, whereas bare tillage and winter cereals were avoided. In general, Buzzards preferred habitats of the least amount in the studied area and avoided those which dominated. These data support the idea of high importance of small landscape structures for the biodiversity protection in intensively used farmland. During winter months, most Buzzards (59.5%) were perched when first sighted, most often on trees and in the middle part of their height. The percent of birds sitting on the ground amounted to 34.7%. The smallest amount of individuals (5.8%) was observed flying (flap-sailing, hovering and soaring), however this activity significantly increased in March (up to 17.1%). The significance of various hunting methods for wintering Buzzards is discussed. Even though it is a typical perch hunting raptor, the method of hunting from the ground seems to be particularly suitable for the conditions of winter farmland: common scarcity of perches, poor and low vegetation, local and temporary prey concentrations.
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Keywords: BIRDS; BUTEO BUTEO; BUZZARD; FARMLAND; HABITAT PREFERENCES; HUNTING BEHAVIOUR; PERCH-SITE USE; WINTERING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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