Temporal heterogeneity in the effects of food supply during the breeding season on the productivity of the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was investigated in a supplementary feeding experiment. Pairs were fed artificially (1) before egg-laying, (2) after chicks hatched and (3) continuously throughout the season, and compared with (4) unfed controls. Pairs fed before egg-laying had marginally larger clutches than those not fed, but lay date, egg volume and weight, brood size and hatching success were unaffected. Territorial quality had far greater effects, with pairs nesting in low-quality habitats (bog, scrub and semi-natural grassland) laying later and having lower hatching success, smaller broods and fewer fledglings than those in more productive agricultural landscapes. Supplementary feeding after egg hatching neutralized the negative effect of poor habitat, resulting in fed birds having significantly more fledglings. This study emphasizes the importance of food availability when provisioning chicks in suboptimal habitats and has implications for the success of diversionary feeding in reducing game losses to Buzzards.
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