Age-related trends in breeding performance of female Eurasian Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) were examined in south Scotland. Over a 22 year period, most individuals were banded and of known age. Previous analyses had shown that average number of young raised per breeding attempt (or year) increased progressively in successive age-groups to midlife (around five years) and declined thereafter. Here we analyze different components of breeding performance (such as clutch-size, hatching and fledging success) to find which components contribute most importantly to the overall age-related trend in productivity. Most aspects of breeding showed a similar upward–downward trend through the life span, but the downward trend in productivity in later life could be attributed mainly to poorer nestling survival. In general, in each aspect of breeding, the mean trend of the population as a whole was followed by individuals studied at different ages. Such individual trends were sufficient to account for the overall mean trend, and there was no need to postulate that high-performance or low-performance birds entered and left the breeding population at different ages. Only one aspect of breeding showed no trend with age, namely proportion of birds that laid having built a nest, but that type of failure affected only a small proportion of individuals.
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Vol. 119 • No. 3