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Function and temporal variation in use of ossuaries by Bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) during the nestling period

AuthorsMargalida, Antoni ; Bertran, Joan
Issue Date2001
PublisherAmerican Ornithologists' Union
Oxford University Press
CitationAuk 118(3): 785-789 (2001)
AbstractWe analyze the use and functionality of ossuaries by the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) in the Pyrenees during the nestling period. In 71% of cases, the ossuary was used to prepare food for chicks, in 11% for storing food, and only in 18% for preparing the adults' own food. Pairs used an average of two ossuaries at a mean distance from the nest of 789 m (SE +/- 377). The average time dedicate to breaking bone was 5.3 min (SE +/- 4.2) and 4.5 throws (SE +/- 5.8) for each session in the ossuarie (n= 86). The temporal variation found in the use of the ossuaries, with maximum frequencies between 31-90 days of age of chicks, may be due to a possible qualitative variation in chicks' diets. Ossuaries are also used to store food, this being a differentiating and advantageous trait with respect to feeding behavior developed by other meat scavengers.
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