Environmental parameters in different breeding habitats of Red-backed Shrikes (Lanius collurio) in central Italy were examined at altitudes ranging from 0 to 1,200 m. The most suitable habitats for breeding were: (1) cultivated areas with hedgerows, and (2) high altitude grasslands. Similar population densities were recorded in both habitats (0.27 pairs/10 ha in farmland vs. 0.30 pairs/10 ha in meadows) and as were the number of fledged young per breeding pair (3.38 in farmland vs. 3.75 in meadows). The structural characteristics of ‘open space’ and ‘edge density’ differed in the two breeding habitats. Use of species of trees and bushes for nesting depended on habitat type, but nests were in the more abundant thorny shrubs (blackthorn [Prunus spinosa] in farmland and juniper [Juniperus communis] in meadows). Red-backed Shrikes in farmland appear to prefer to nest in the most heterogeneous territories, those with the presence of uncultivated areas and shrub patches. Plasticity of habitat selection by the species was evident.
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