Underlying mechanisms of roosting behaviour of Red Kites Milvus milvus in Switzerland

    The Red Kite is among the largest raptors in Switzerland. The Swiss population has increased considerably during the last decades, while the trend in many other regions in Europe is stable or even negative.

    In 2015, the Swiss Ornithological Institute has launched a project to study the ecology and population dynamics of Red Kites in Switzerland, equipping ca. 400 birds with solar-powered GPS loggers.

    In winter, Red Kites often attend impressive roosting sites with up to 200 individuals (Aebischer 2020).  Several hypotheses may explain why birds join roosts, yet the drivers and implications of this behaviour at the individual level remain unclear. 

    Here, we seek for a MSc student who is keen to investigate the roosting behaviour of red kites.

    In the proposed MSc project, the student will perform a food-titration experiment to compare the foraging efficiency and space use of roosting vs. non-roosting individuals, and combine this data with existing long-term data of GPS tracked individuals.  

    Methods

    This thesis will require a combination of field work and data analysis. Field work will take place in winter 2020/21 in the cantons of Fribourg / Bern, Switzerland. Tasks will include planning, coordinating and performing a feeding experiment; standardised raptor observations; driving in the countryside. Data analysis will require the use of R software and QGIS.

    Requirements

    Interest in behavioural and spatial ecology; driving license; willingnesss to master demanding field work; knowledge in R and QGIS; period starting not later than 1st November 2020; time frame for the master thesis: 1 year.

    Contact

    Schweizerische Vogelwarte
    Benedetta Catitti
    6204 Sempach
    email: Benedetta.catitti@vogelwarte.ch