We studied the diet of breeding Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in the Cape Verde archipelago during 2006, using prey remains recovered at 21 nests and perches on the islands of São Vicente, Santiago, Santa Luzia, Boavista, Branco, and Raso. We identified a total of 1264 individual fish prey items of 35 species. Diet was dominated (>80%) by only six fish species, including Trachinotus ovatus, Exocoetus volitans, Aulostomus strigosus, Sparisoma cretense, Sardinella maderensis, and Tylosurus acus. Dominant prey species varied among islands, but diet similarity was greater between nearby islands. Pelagic species were consumed most frequently (>60%) in Boavista and Santa Luzia, whereas demersal reef fish dominated (>50%) in the other islands. The fish consumed were generally large, though there was wide variation in estimated length (20.7–62.2 cm) and weight (49–1117 g). A comparison of Osprey diet with Cape Verde fisheries suggested that the potential for conflict is low, due to minimal overlap in the primary species caught. Changes in marine productivity associated with the ongoing moderate warming of the Canary Current System may represent a threat, though there is considerable uncertainty about the type and magnitude of these effects. Monitoring of Osprey numbers, breeding success, and diet is required to detect any changes associated with availability of food sources, and such monitoring may also provide a relatively simple and inexpensive method to track long-term changes in littoral fish assemblages.
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Vol. 45 • No. 3