Raptor pellets are the indigestible parts of prey (e.g. fur, bones, feathers) that are regurgitated after a meal. When pulled apart and identified, the tightly packed contents of a pellet can provide information about raptor diet. Thus pellet analysis is a useful, non-invasive tool in raptor ecology studies, especially for understanding the dietary habits of secretive and/or wide-ranging raptors.
In collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Haworth Conservation and RSPB, we used pellets and prey remains to compare the diets of white-tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) breeding in adjacent ranges in western Scotland.
Two manuscripts have been prepared from this study:
Whitfield, D.P., Reid, R., Haworth, P.F., Madders, M., Marquiss, M., Tingay, R.E. and Fielding, A.H. 2009. Diet specificity is not associated with increased reproductive performance of golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos in western Scotland. Ibis 151: 255-264.
Whitfield, D.P., Madders, M., Marquiss, M., Tingay, R.E. and Reid, R. Submitted. No evidence for competition between two sympatric avian top predators: breeding season diets of white-tailed eagles and golden eagles.
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Photos: R. Tingay