A Great Grey Shrike population was studied in two large plots (220 km2 and 176 km2) in western Poland in 1999–2003. During the study period densities varied from 11.4 to 14.1 breeding pairs/100 km2 but numbers were stable. In all, 180 Great Grey Shrike nests were found — 114 (63.3%) in conifers, 66 (36.7%) in deciduous trees. This population's reproductive parameters were relatively high in comparison to those of other European populations: mean clutch size — 6.6, hatching success — 92.5%, mean brood size — 5.72, mean number of fledglings per pair — 4.1, mean number of fledged young per successful pair — 5.25. Eggs (mean 27.1 × 19.9 mm) were found to be larger than reported in the literature. Nesting success was similar in both study plots, but there was slight seasonal variability: 41.0%–52.6% from 99 nesting attempts in the first plot, 42.1%–43.7% from 37 nests in the second. Predation was the main cause of nest losses. Plastic string used as nesting material appeared to be the most important cause of partial failures: 13 (8.2%) of a total of 147 nestlings surviving to fledging perished as a result of becoming tangled up in it. Nestlings rarely starved. Nests in linear habitats suffered significantly higher breeding losses (78.6%) than those in non-linear habitats (50%). The high fitness values obtained from this population were probably due to traditional farming practices, the sparing use of pesticides and the good potential food source.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1