Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) have expanded their range as trees have invaded formerly-open grasslands. Desert grasslands of southern Arizona have been invaded by mesquite trees (Prosopis velutina) since Anglo-American settlement and now support a large population of Red-tailed Hawks. We studied a population of Red-tailed Hawks in an altered desert grassland in southern Arizona. Our objectives were to determine what environmental characteristics influence Red-tailed Hawk habitat selection in mesquite-invaded desert grasslands and to evaluate the habitat quality of these grasslands for Red-tailed Hawks based on nesting density, nest success, and productivity. Red-tailed Hawks had 86% (95% C.I. = 73-99) nest success and 1.82 young per breeding pair (95% C.I. = 1.41-2.23). Nesting density was 0.15 (95% CI = 0.08-0.21) breeding pairs/km2 and the mean nearest-neighbor distance was 1.95 km (95% C.I. = 1.74-2.16). Red-tailed Hawks selected nest-sites with taller nest-trees and greater tree height and cover than were available at random. Mesquite trees in desert grasslands provide abundant potential nesting structures for Red-tailed Hawks. ?? 2006 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.
Additional Publication Details
Breeding biology and nest-site selection of red-tailed hawks in an altered desert grassland