We measured breeding success of Spotted Owlets (Athene brama) in two habitats, villages (human habitations) and rural areas (open country) in India. We quantified habitat types in 500-m-radius circles surrounding 53 nest sites and examined owlet pellets collected at nest sites in both areas, to describe owlet diet. Breeding success was higher in the human habitations than in open country (3.3 young per successful nest vs. 2.2, respectively, P < 0.001). Diet at nests in human habitations contained more rodents and other noninsectivorous non-arachnid prey (by biomass and species richness) than those in open country (P < 0.01 for rodents and P < 0.001 for other prey). We used multivariate linear regression to examine which factors of habitat and diet most influenced breeding success and found that only the percentage of rodents, and the percentage of other prey were included as statistically significant variables in our final model. Thus, the most significant determinant of breeding success of Spotted Owlets was high-value prey items, which were more abundant in the areas of human habitations.
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