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Abstract

Social feeding strategies of wintering red kites are analyzed in relation to age, food, roost-sites and differences from kite residents. Whereas young and adult wintering kites gathered at roost sites almost daily, adult residents did not, and immature residents only occasionally. Kites using roost sites feed more often on prey prelocated by others, while lone roosters also forage and discover food alone. After finding food, kites tend to shift to a new roost site and foraging area. Two details of the ‘information centre’ hypothesis are confirmed in our study: carcasses are unpredictably found patches, divisible between several individuals. But carcasses disappeared fast in the study area, and no increase with time in the number of birds consuming a carcass was observed, so that information transmission was unconfirmed. When kites leave the roost in groups no leader is detectable. It seems that other types of social foraging are operating, and the model best matching our results is network foraging.