During the breeding seasons of 2015 and 2016 prey remains were collected from five nestboxes occupied by Peregrine Falcons in the southeastern Netherlands. Four of these boxes were in cities near the river Meuse, the fifth 35 km west of the Meuse. A total of 429 prey remains of 37 bird species were identified, with racing pigeons Columba livia (here including some feral pigeons and fancy pigeons) and Starlings Sturnus vulgaris by far the most frequently captured, with resp. 48.0% and 26.8% in numbers and resp. 74.2% and 10.4% in biomass. The proximity of the river Meuse did not result in a higher proportion of ducks, waders or gulls in diets of local Peregrines compared to the nest amidst farmland 35 km away from the Meuse. The proportion of racing pigeons in breeding season diets varied between 24 and 68% per pair. Rings were collected from 168 racing pigeons, of which 128 had a Dutch origin (the rest from Germany and Belgium). Of Dutch pigeons, the location of the loft was determined in 94 cases: 23 pigeons originated from within 10 km of the Peregrine’s breeding site, the rest came from lofts between 11 and 134 km distance (mean distance between loft and Peregrine nest 35.7 km). Based on the position of lofts of captured pigeons compared to the nests of the five Peregrine pairs, and taking into account the south-north direction of racing flights, we determined that 23 pigeons originated from local lofts (within 10 km), 30 were captured during a homing flight and 41 were considered as strays. Most pigeons were <1 year old (45%), or 1-2 years old (resp. 26% and 21%); very few were older than 2 years (8% of n=42 freshly killed pigeons). The age-distribution among available racing pigeons is not known, except that homing flights in June September mostly consist of <1 year-old pigeons, and those in April-June of pigeons of 1 year old and older. For pigeons of which the year of capture was unequivocally determined and homing lofts identified, 8 out 9 pigeons from lofts within 10 km of the Peregrine’s nest were <1 year old (mean age 0.38 years old, sd=0.22), whereas only 1 out of 11 pigeons from lofts further away was <1 year old (mean age 2.03 years old, sd=1.73).

De Takkeling

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Werkgroep Roofvogels Nederland

R.G. Bijlsma, U. Jellema, & H. Thoonen. (2018). Het belang van postduiven Columba livia als voedsel voor Slechtvalken Falco peregrinus in de broedtijd: een studie in Zuid-Nederland. De Takkeling, 26(3), 229–253.