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Diet and breeding success of long-eared owls in a semi-arid environment

Charter, M., Izhaki, I., Leshem, Y., Roulin, A.
Journal of arid environments 2012 v.85 pp. 142-144
Microtus, Mus musculus, Otus asio, adults, birds, breeding, clutch size, correlation, diet, mice, nests, semiarid zones, temperate zones, voles, Israel
Only a few studies, and mostly in temperate climates in Europe, have examined the breeding and diet of long-eared owls (Asio otus) compared to studies of cavity-breeding owls, possibly because of the difficulties in reaching the nests of the former. Here we studied a population of long-eared owls, monitoring the diet of breeding owls and that of owls at a communal roost, every two to three months during 2006–2009, in a semi-arid region in Israel. It was found that the studied owls produced more young than in most countries in Europe. Diet was not associated with breeding parameters of the owls, whereas laying date was negatively correlated with both clutch size and number of nestlings. We found that more social voles (Microtus socialis) and fewer birds and house mice (Mus musculus) made up the diet at nests than that of adults at the roosts. The diet and breeding of long-eared owls in Israel differ from that in Europe, with birds and mice comprising an important part of the diet, in addition to voles.