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Winter distribution and abundance of raptors were monitored within the Platte and North Platte river valleys. Data were collected along 265 km of census routes along the Platte and North Platte rivers during the winters of 1978-1979 and 1979-1980. Observations recorded during the second winter involved less observation time and were at somewhat different periods. There were 1574 sightings of 15 species representing 3 raptor families. Number of raptors observed on 54 days from 15 November to 13 February 1978-1979 was 48.3 per 100 km. In 20 days of observation from 5 December to 6 March 1979-1980, 39.7 raptors were observed per 100 km. Small mammal indices were 21 and 12 captures per 1000 trap nights during November 1978 and 1979, respectively. Raptors were sighted most frequently in riverine habitat and least in pasture and tilled fields. American kestrels (Falco sparverius) (11.1 individuals/100 km), red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) (9.9), and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) (9.6) were the most frequently sighted raptors. Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), rough-legged hawk (B. lagopus), and prairie falcon (P. mexicanus) sightings were 3.4, 3.4, and 1.7, respectively. Nine species were seen at a frequency of less than 1.0 individuals/100 km. Improved foraging conditions throughout the region resulted in fewer raptors sighted in 1979-1980.
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Winter raptor use of the Platte and North Platte River Valleys in south central Nebraska