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Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Evans R.J.,RSPB Scotland Headquarters | Pearce-Higgins J.,RSPB Scotland Headquarters | Whitfield D.P.,Natural Research | Grant J.R.,RSPB Scotland Headquarters | And 2 more authors.
Bird Study | Year: 2010

Capsule: Golden and White-tailed Eagles selected different habitats for nesting. Aim: To investigate differences in nesting habitat used by sympatrically breeding eagles in western Scotland, following reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles from 1975 onwards. Methods: Nest-site locations from national surveys in 2003-05 were entered into a geographical information system (GIS) in order to measure a set of geographic parameters for each nest site. Binary logistic regression with backwards deletion of non-significant terms was used to derive minimum adequate models at two spatial scales of the likelihood of an eagle nest belonging to one species or the other. We compared changes in occupancy between 1992 and 2003 of Golden Eagle territories inside and outside a GIS model of potential White-tailed Eagle habitat and according to proximity to White-tailed Eagle nests. Results: White-tailed Eagles nested at lower altitudes than Golden Eagles, in more wooded habitats with more open water close by, tending to nest in trees where these were present. There were 3359 km 2 of potential White-tailed Eagle nesting habitat within 25 km of existing White-tailed Eagle nests, containing 54 Golden Eagle territory centres, but we found no difference in change of occupancy for Golden Eagle territories close to White-tailed Eagles compared with those further away. Conclusion: White-tailed and Golden Eagles appear to partition nesting habitat in the west of Scotland by altitude. This corresponds with behaviour in western Norway and with the situation described in historical accounts of nest-sites in western Scotland prior to extinction of White-tailed Eagles. It is also consistent with recent studies showing little overlap in breeding season diet of Golden and White-tailed Eagles in western Scotland, and likely partitioning of foraging habitat by altitude. We conclude that the likelihood of competitive exclusion is less than previously suggested. © 2010 British Trust for Ornithology. Source

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