FEEDING HABITS OF THE STYGIAN OWL (ASIO STYGIUS) AND THE SHORT-EARED OWL (A. FLAMMEUS) IN THE SOUTHWEST OF BOGOTÁ SAVANNA, CUNDINAMARCA, COLOMBIA
Keywords:The Andes, Asio stygius, A. flammeus, seed dispersion, wooded urban parks, ecosystem services
AbstractThis study quantitively compares the diets of the Stygian Owl (Asio stygius) and the Short-eared Owl (A. flammeus) in the south-west of the Bogotá Savanna, Colombia. We identified 130 prey items from 111 A. stygius pellets and 579 prey items from 149 A. flammeus pellets. In terms of the numbers of preys, the diet of A. stygius consisted of the following: 88.1% birds, mainly pigeons, rails and cuckoos; and a smaller proportion of beetles (11.4%). In the diet of A. flammeus, insects were the most frequent prey item (59.8%), followed by rodents (39.8%), and birds (0.5%). In terms of biomass contribution, the main preys in the diet of A. stygius were Eared Doves (Zenaida auriculata) (54%) and Purple Gallinules (Porphyrio martinica) (19.3%), while the diet of A. flammeus consisted mainly of House Mice (Mus musculus) (65.2%). Diet diversity varied between the owl species: A. flammeus was more selective in its hunting habits, while A. stygius was more of an opportunistic predator. It is important to quantify the ecosystem services these owls provide not only by controlling M. musculus, Z. auriculata, and Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) populations, which can affect human well-being and threatened species populations, but also through secondary seed dispersion and birdwatching opportunities.