A sample of 24 wild kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) was tested in captive conditions in order to study their predatory behaviour after a rehabilitation period from injuries. The birds, divided into two groups according to duration of captivity, were tested on three consecutive days with three types of prey: a live mouse, a dead mouse, and a chicken carcass. The results showed a significant interaction between groups and prey with regard to the movements on the perch after the prey's appearance and the exploratory flights above it. The dead mouse constantly elicited more movements in the kestrel, particularly in birds in captivity for less time. The duration between capture and ingestion of the prey in the live mouse tests was longer than in those with a dead prey. The live mouse was bill pecked several times, particularly on the head. Thus, kestrels still maintain a good predatory ability even after prolonged captivity, and they soon become used to the unnatural food provided. The implications from the adaptive and husbandry point of view are discussed.
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