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Stable occupancy by breeding hawks (Buteo spp.) over 25 years on a privately managed bunchgrass prairie in northeastern Oregon, USA

January 1, 2014

Potential for large prairie remnants to provide habitat for grassland-obligate wildlife may be compromised by nonsustainable range-management practices. In 1979–1980, high nesting densities of 3 species of hawks in the genus Buteo—Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis), Red-tailed Hawk (B. jamaicensis), and Swainson's Hawk (B. swainsoni)—were documented on the Zumwalt Prairie and surrounding agricultural areas (34,361 ha) in northeastern Oregon, USA. This area has been managed primarily as livestock summer range since it was homesteaded. Unlike in other prairie remnants, land management on the Zumwalt Prairie was consistent over the past several decades; thus, we predicted that territory occupancy of these 3 species would be stable. We also predicted that territory occupancy would be positively related to local availability of nesting structures within territories. We evaluated these hypotheses using a historical dataset, current survey and habitat data, and occupancy models. In support of our predictions, territory occupancy of all 3 species has not changed over the study period of ∼25 yr, which suggests that local range-management practices are not negatively affecting these taxa. Probability of Ferruginous Hawk occupancy increased with increasing area of aspen, an important nest structure for this species in grasslands. Probability of Swainson's Hawk occupancy increased with increasing area of large shrubs, and probability of Red-tailed Hawk occupancy was weakly associated with area of conifers. In the study area, large shrubs and conifers are commonly used as nesting structures by Swainson's Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks, respectively. Availability of these woody species is changing (increases in conifers and large shrubs, and decline in aspen) throughout the west, and these changes may result in declines in Ferruginous Hawk occupancy and increases in Swainson's Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk occupancy in the future.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Stable occupancy by breeding hawks (<i>Buteo</i> spp.) over 25 years on a privately managed bunchgrass prairie in northeastern Oregon, USA
DOI 10.1650/CONDOR-12-174.1
Authors Patricia L. Kennedy, Anne M. Bartuszevige, Marcy Houle, Ann B. Humphrey, Katie M. Dugger, John Williams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Condor
Series Number
Index ID 70047698
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

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