The diet of young Lammergeiers Gypaetus barbatus in Corsica: its dependence on extensive grazing



This paper describes the diet of young Lammergeiers Gypaetus barbatus during the nesting period on the island of Corsica. From 1985 to 1990, food items were collected from 10 nests after the young had fledged. These nests were from five territories where the potential food supply was estimated using a range of ‘large mammal’ counts. Feathers, bones and isolated hooves were used to identify prey. For each nest, the minimal number of food portions was quantified, ignoring material that provided no food value. The diet consisted mainly of limb extremities of domestic ungulates (c. 36% by number of portions of sheep and goat; 33% of cattle, mostly calves). Pigs, both wild and domestic, yielded c. 16% of the items. Where present on the territory, mouflon occurred frequently in nests (c. 12% of items). Birds and small mammals were scarce in the diet. For three territories, samples varied less among years than among territories. There was a strong association between the diet of the young and the food available in the territories. We examined the possible links between known 20th century changes in stock rearing activities and the Corsican Lammergeier's diet.