We explored aspects of renal function in American Kestrels (Falco sparverius), birds that habitually eat high-protein meals. In particular, we hypothesized that, like granivorous birds switched to high-protein food, kestrels would have high urine flows with high proportions of waste N as urate. In nestlings in the field, 80–93% of urinary N was in the form of urate, though concentrations of ammonia and urea were higher in older nestlings. Feeding resulted in reduced osmotic and ion concentrations in urine, but concentrations and proportions of nitrogenous wastes were unaffected. In adult kestrels in the laboratory, urine flow rate in fed animals, ∼1 mL h–1, was similar to that previously measured in avian granivores. Urine flow declined with fasting, accomplished by both a reduction in glomerular filtration rate (significant after 24 h fast) and a rise in tubular water reabsorption (significant after 48 h). During the course of a 48 h fast, proportion of urinary N excreted as urate fell and that as ammonia rose. Both filtration and secretion of urate dropped during fasting, so that tubular secretion remained responsible for ∼90% of urinary urate. Composition of fluid voided from the cloaca differed little from that of the ureteral urine.
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Vol. 119 • No. 2