The diet and breeding success of Eagle Owls (Bubo bubo) have been suggested to vary at different latitudes. However, it is still unclear whether and how these relationships exist at lower latitudes outside of Europe. We therefore studied the diet and breeding success of Eagle Owls during four breeding seasons at 14 nests in the Judea region, Israel. Of a total of 9461 prey species were identified; mammals (N = 6896, 35 species; 72.89%, biomass 62.3%) and birds (N = 2255, 55 species, 23.83%; biomass 36.0%) predominated the prey-base. We found that the gradient of diversity of the mammalian prey decreased from west to east; and avian prey increased from east to west. The index of species diversity, H’ for all prey, had no relationship with breeding success. The prey-base of the Eagle Owls helped identify the changes in geographic distributions of several species. Marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna), especially threatened, appear to be relatively abundant, as are brown rats (Ratttus norvegicus) which were previously considered to be restricted to the coastal regions. In addition to Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus), the Eagle Owls also preyed on nine different species of insectivorous bats, several of which appear to have enlarged their geographic distribution within Israel. The Eagle Owl’s diet emphasizes its generalist foraging habits, but pairs may be species-specific specialists. This adaptation is especially important in a fast-developing and congested country like Israel, because a generalist hunting strategy probably allows the species to subsist in the region.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Veterinary (all)