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Habitat preferences of migrant and wintering northern harriers in northwestern Texas

Southwestern Naturalist

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Abstract

We studied habitat preferences of northern harriers ( Circus cyaneus) in four counties of the Southern High Plains of northwestern Texas from October 1989 to May 1995. Harriers generally arrived in late July and departed in April. They hunted over a variety of habitats in the study area but mainly in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands and vegetated playa basins. CRP grasslands, playa basins, and shortgrass prairie were used disproportionately to their availability, whereas winter wheat was used less than its availability. Brown harriers (adult females or subadults of either sex) foraged in CRP about as often as adult males but more frequently in playas and prairies, whereas adult males foraged more in winter wheat. As underground water sources for irrigation continue to be depleted, agricultural practices are likely to change. Depending on how the land is used after irrigation ceases, harriers may benefit if CRP grasslands, vegetated playas, and shortgrass prairies persist. If dominant land use reverts to livestock grazing, however, the harrier population will be negatively affected.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Habitat preferences of migrant and wintering northern harriers in northwestern Texas
Series title:
Southwestern Naturalist
Volume
50
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2005
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description:
p. 448-452
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Southwestern Naturalist
First page:
448
Last page:
452
Number of Pages:
5