The diet of the greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga) in Belarusian Polesie

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The diet of the greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga) in Belarusian Polesie

During 1999-2009 the food remains from the nests of 43 breeding pairs of the greater spotted eagle in Belarusian Polesie (southern Belarus) were collected. 797 prey items were determined, including mammals (40%, 15 species and Sylvaemus sp., 4 orders), birds (36%, 35 species and Phylloscopus sp., Corvidae sp., 11 orders), evertebrates (16%, Coleoptera, Odonatoptera, Gastropoda), reptiles (6%, 4 species and Lacerta sp.), amphibians (1%, Rana sp.) and fish (1%, 3 species). Small rodents from the genus Microtus (M. arvalis and M. oeconomus) as well as Arvicola amphibius were the most numerous mammal species, followed by Erinaceus roumanicus and Talpa europaea. Rallidae (mostly Rallus aquaticus, Porzana porzana and Crex crex), waders (mainly Galinago gallinago), dabbling ducks (mainly Anas platyrhynchos and Anas querquedula), Galliformes (Lyrurus tetrix), Ciconiiformes (Ardea cinerea and Botaurus stellaris) were the most numerous bird prey species. Emberiza schoeniclus was predominated prey species among Passerines. Reptiles were frequently represented by snakes (mainly Natrix natrix, but also Vipera berus and Coronella austriaca). Biomass predominance in diet of the greater spotted eagles is as follows: birds (67.9%), mammals (25.3%), reptiles (3.4%), fish (3.0%) and amphibians (0.3%). Prey species with a body mass of 51-200 g (41.9%) and 11-50 g (38.3%) were predominant in the food spectrum of the greater spotted eagles. In the weight category of 1-50g, mammals were dominant, but from the categories of 51-200 g and heavier, birds occupied the leading position. The prey which made the largest contribution in total biomass of the greater spotted eagle were in the prey weight category from 601 to 1200 g (34%), then from 51 to 200 g (24%), from 11 to 50 g (16.6%) and more than 1200 g (16%). The species of the genus Microtus were equally represented in prey set of the greater spotted eagle in habitats with different degrees of anthropogenic transformation (24% in each habitat type). The share of Arvicola amphibius in the diet of the greater spotted eagle decreased from 12% in natural habitats to 4% in transformed habitats; the share of birds decreased from 41% to 26% correspondingly. The share of Insectivora and Evertebrata, on the contrary, increased to 3% and 11% in natural habitats and to 6% and 27% in transformed habitats correspondingly.

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