Home range and habitat use of little owl (Athene noctua) in an agricultural landscape in coastal Catalonia, Spain

Framis, H.  Holroyd, G. L.  Mañosa, S. 

Abstract

In recent decades agricultural landscapes in Catalonia have undergone a profound transformation as in most of Europe. Reforestation and urban development have reduced farmland and therefore the availability of suitable habitat for some bird species such as the little owl (Athene noctua). The outskirts of the city of Mataró by the Mediterranean Sea exemplify this landscape change, but still support a population of little owl where agriculture is carried out. Three resident little owls were monitored with telemetry weekly from November 2007 until the beginning of August 2008 in this suburban agricultural landscape. Mean home range ± SD was 10.9 ± 5.5 ha for minimum convex polygon (MCP100) and 7.4 ± 3.8 ha for Kernel 95% probability function (K95). Home ranges of contiguous neighboring pairs overlapped 18.4% (MCP100) or 6% (K95). Home range varied among seasons reaching a maximum between March and early August but always included the nesting site. Small forested patches were associated with roosting and nesting areas where cavities in Carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua) were important. When foraging in crop fields, the owls typically fed where crops had recently
been harvested and replanted. All three owls bred successfully.

Key words

Little owl, Athene noctua, Telemetry, Conservation, Home range, Habitat use, Agricultural landscape

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