On the diet of owls (Strigiformes) in Jordan

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Between 2005 and 2015 I undertook eight trips to Jordan during which I collected pellets from seven owl species. In them 14,203 food items were identified. Mammals (Mammalia, 46 species, 37.9% of prey items) formed the most numerous component, invertebrates (Evertebrata) made up 33.4%, birds (Aves, 25.4%) were represented with at least 104 species, reptiles (Reptilia) came to 3.2%, and two species of amphibian were identified (Amphibia, 0.2%). Pharoah eagle owls (Bubo ascalaphus) and Byzantine eagle owls (Bubo bubo interpositus) primarily hunt larger mammals and birds, although Agamidae and Scorpiones were also represented more frequently among B. ascalaphus. Mammals predominated among tawny owls (Strix aluco wilkonskii) (Mammalia, 58.9%), mainly the eastern rock mouse (Apodemus mystacinus) (24.9%). For wintering long-eared owls Asio otus otus the most important food was small birds (Aves, 78.3%), especially house sparrows (Passer domesticus), Fringillidae and Sylviidae. For barn owls (Tyto alba erlangeri) the principal prey was small mammals (83.1%), mainly mice (Mus sp.), Günther’s vole (Microtus guentheri), grey hamster (Cricetulus migratorius) and shrews (Soricidae). Hume’s tawny owl (Strix butleri) pellets contained mostly invertebrates (58.9%) and lizards, and their most frequent mammal prey were Wagner’s gerbil (Gerbillus dasyurus) and spiny mice (Acomys sp.). There was an even higher propostion of invertebrates (86.4%) among lilith owlets (Athene lilith). In addition to the insect orders Coleoptera, Orthoptera and Hymenoptera, remains of Scorpiones and Solifugae were also frequently found. The summarized results from individual owl species are compared with those gathered by the author in the surrounding Middle Eastern countries: Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

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