Breeding Biology and Diet of the African Swallow-Tailed Kite (Chelictinia riocourii) in Senegal and Cameroon

R. Buij, S. Cavaillés, W.C. Mullié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We studied the breeding biology of the African Swallow-tailed Kite (Chelictinia riocourii) in two study areas located 3400 km apart in the central (Cameroon) and western (Senegal) portions of the species' breeding range. With 110 nests in 2.8 km2 of suitable breeding habitat, Kousmar islet (23 km2) in Senegal supports the largest documented colony of African Swallow-tailed Kites known to date. Breeding kites in Senegal nested in a single large colony near a massive winter roost. In Cameroon, breeding colonies averaged seven pairs/colony, with nest densities of 0.3 nests/km2 in protected woodland and 0.9 nests/km2 in cultivated habitat. Egg-laying coincided with the end of the dry season in Cameroon, but eggs were recorded from the middle of the dry season in Senegal. Eggs hatched between April and June in both study sites in 2010, but from March 2012 in Senegal. The incubation period was estimated at 27–31 d based on two nests, and the fledging period was 32–35 d (n ¿=¿ 3 fledglings). Mean clutch size was 2.5 eggs (n ¿=¿ 32) in Cameroon and 2.1 in Senegal (n ¿=¿ 29); one clutch of four eggs was recorded in Cameroon. Nest success estimated with the Mayfield method was low at 17% in Cameroon and exceptionally low at 4% in Senegal, possibly related to a combination of suboptimal food conditions, high predation pressure, intraspecific aggression, and lack of experience among breeding pairs. Prey items at nests were made up primarily of lizards (30–54% of items) and insects (27–49%), notably grasshoppers, whereas the diet at the winter roost in Senegal was predominantly Orthoptera (55%) and Solifugids (43%). Our study suggested that African Swallow-tailed Kites were able to adapt to moderate land transformation near floodplains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-53
JournalJournal of Raptor Research
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • savanna
  • raptors
  • birds
  • hawk
  • populations
  • predation
  • survival
  • site

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