Breeding diet and behaviour of a pair of Grey Falcons Falco hypoleucos and their offspring in north-western New South Wales

The diet of a pair of Grey Falcons Falco hypoleucos was investigated in Sturt National Park, arid north-western New South Wales, by analysis of pellets and orts collected during October–December 2003 beneath a nest in a riparian Coolibah Eucalyptus coolabah beside a gibber plain. The falcons fl edged a brood of four young in a year of aboveaverage rainfall in the fi rst half (and average rainfall overall), from an estimated egg-laying date of early August. The falcons’ breeding diet (n = 62 prey items from 58 dietary samples) consisted, by number, mainly of birds (99%, 63% being parrots) and one mammal; parrots formed most of the biomass (90%) of identifi ed avian prey. Geometric Mean Prey Weight was 29.6 grams, and dietary diversity (Shannon Index) was 1.98. Small–medium (<100 g) granivorous birds were selected as prey (P <0.01). The juvenile off spring accompanied their hunting parents, associating with them for at least fi ve months post-fl edging.

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