Q&A

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents - Mike Toms

Why do salmon leap and what is meant by ‘crown shy­ness’?

AThere­cov­er­ies of the UK’s buz­zard and red kite pop­u­la­tions af­ter years of per­se­cu­tion are con­ser­va­tion suc­cess sto­ries, with both species now well es­tab­lished across most of their for­mer haunts. How­ever, the come­back of these large rap­tors (along with the goshawk), may have im­pli­ca­tions for other birds, par­tic­u­larly if they are po­ten­tial com­peti­tors or prey.

Stud­ies else­where in Europe sug­gest that the re­turn of a large rap­tor can re­duce the num­bers of other bird species within its ter­ri­to­ries, or lower their pro­duc­tiv­ity. Though we do not have any ev­i­dence of this hap­pen­ing in the UK, there is a sug­ges­tion that breed­ing hob­bies have be­come less ob­vi­ous in ar­eas oc­cu­pied by buz­zards and kites. This could be a be­havioural re­sponse, with the hob­bies choos­ing less ob­vi­ous nest sites, or it could be in­traguild pre­da­tion (the killing and some­times eat­ing of po­ten­tial com­peti­tors). We still don’t know for sure. Long-eared owl chicks could also be vul­ner­a­ble to pre­da­tion from large rap­tors, but fur­ther re­search is needed.

Hob­bies are sum­mer birds, ar­riv­ing here from April. They are supreme fliers, of­ten seen snatch­ing drag­on­flies over wet­lands.

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