Scavenging of mammal carcases by birds in West Scotland


  • Raymond Hewson

    1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, c/o Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Blackhall, Banchory, Kincardineshire AB3 3PS, Scotland
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In a series of preference tests with wild birds, Buzzards, Great black-backed gulls and Hooded crows preferred rabbit to sheep or lamb. Ravens preferred rabbit to lamb but not to sheep. It was likely that breaking of carcases by foxes and badgers assisted scavenging birds. Territoriality and inter-specific competition limited scavenging. Buzzards were dominant at carcases, then Great black-backs, then (probably) Ravens, with Hooded crows subordinate to all three. Buzzards fed singly but Great black-backs and Crows profited by feeding as pairs. Birds ate large quantities of carrion, often on successive days, and Hooded crows hoarded carrion.