Prey selection by the Barn Owl Tyto alba (Scopoli, 1769) in captivity

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V. Vanitha
R. Kanakasabai


We investigated prey selection of the Barn Owl Tyto alba under captive conditions where birds were allowed to choose among individuals of varying size from four field rodent species: Bandicota bengalensis, Millardia meltada, Tatera indica and Mus booduga. Owls showed little species preference and a tendency to favour the medium weight class in all prey species except M. booduga. Preference for body parts consumed varied according to prey size, ranging from the head alone in the large weight class to the entire body in the small weight class. Biochemical measurements showed that protein, carbohydrate and lipid levels were higher respectively in the brain, liver and muscles of all three species and weight classes studied. The preference for medium weight prey despite a lower nutrient content compared to large weight prey is attributed to a greater ease of capture.

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Author Biographies

V. Vanitha

V. Vanitha was a Lecturer in Zoology at the A.V.C. College (Autonomous), Mayiladuthurai. She obtained her PhD. on ‘Status and management of captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Tamil Nadu, Southern India from Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli, India in 2008. Her other research areas include behavioural ecology and management of captive Asian elephants.

R. Kanakasabai

Dr. R. Kanakasabai was the Head of the Department Zoology at the A.V.C. College (Autonomous), Mayiladuthurai. Presently he is serving as the Principal in Shree Raghavendra Arts & Science College Chidamparam, Tamil Nadu.