Abstract

A comparative study of the Red Kite and Black Kite was conducted in the Don̄ana National Park in southwestern Spain. Although the diets of both kites were similar, the Red Kite captured significantly more prey items from scrub habitats close to nesting areas than from marsh habitats, which were further away. Habitat differences in prey abundance and distance from breeding areas suggest that the Red Kite depended on a less abundant but more stable food supply. Nestling mortality from starvation was highest for the last hatched nestlings in both species. The growth rate of Black Kite nestlings was markedly higher than that of Red Kite nestlings. Moreover, growth rates increased with clutch size in the Red Kite, whereas they were constant in the Black Kite. Differences between species in reproductive traits are discussed mainly with regard to their feeding ecology. The slower growth and greater effect of sibling asymmetry on mortality of the Red Kite are consistent with our interpretation that the Red Kite's food supply is less abundant than the Black Kite's.

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