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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter October 1, 2006

Aggressive behaviour in Montagu’s harrier Circus pygargus during the courtship period

Jarosław Wiącek
From the journal Biologia


Aggressive behaviour of Montagu’s harrier was observed during the pre-laying period in the 1992–1995 seasons on the calcareous marshes of Chelm in Eastern Poland. In total, 435 flights performed by 24 pairs of individually marked harriers were analysed. All flights were performed in relation to the territory of defence. Males performed 61% of aggressive interactions while females performed 39%. Intraspecific and interspecific aggression comprising direct attacks (58%), escorts (13%), pursuits (28%) and “mirror behaviour” (1%) were described for the first time. Interspecific aggressive behaviour occurred only near territory boundaries. The main intruders were marsh harriers Circus aeruginosus breeding on the same marshes. Occasionally, harriers attacked curlews Numenius arquata, short-eared owls Asio flammeus, magpies Pica pica, hooded crows Corvus corone cornix, common buzzards Buteo buteo or hobbies Falco subbuteo. Four cases of communal mobbing were observed. Three to five males from the neighbourhood attacked the intruders together. Intraspecific aggressive behaviour was observed in the pair territory, near the boundary or at a distance of up to 100 m from the defended area. Aggressive interactions performed by both sexes were more frequent towards birds of the same sex. Females defended their territories more aggressively against females. Similarly, males were more aggressive against males. All cases of aggressive behaviour were observed near harrier territories. Aggressive relations between birds outside breeding territories or when foraging around marshes were not observed.

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Published Online: 2006-10-1
Published in Print: 2006-10-1

© 2006 Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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