We used radiotelemetry to examine foraging habitat preferences of 17 breeding, male northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) in Minnesota from 1998-2000. We assessed habitat preference using radio relocation points and 50-m radius buffers of radio relocation points. Our data suggested that foraging male goshawks used early-successional upland conifer stands (???25 yrs old), early-successional upland deciduous stands (???50 yrs old), late-successional upland conifer stands (???50 yrs old), and late-successional upland deciduous stands (???50 yrs old) more frequently than expected based on the abundance of these vegetation types in the landscape. The 2 most available stand types, early-successional upland deciduous (<25 yrs old) and all ages of late-successional lowland conifer stands, were used less than expected by foraging goshawks. Late-successional lowland deciduous stands (???50 yrs old) were used in proportion to availability. Although analysis of relocation points suggested early-successional upland deciduous stands (25-49 yrs old) and late-successional upland conifer stands (???50 yrs old) were used in proportion to availability, analysis of buffers around relocation points indicated that these stand types were also used more than expected by foraging goshawks. Regardless of vegetation community type, stands used by goshawks were structurally similar with high canopy and understory stem densities, high canopy closure, substantial shrub cover, and large amounts of woody debris. Nest stands consisted of taller and larger diameter canopy trees and fewer understory trees than foraging stands, but stands were otherwise similar in structural features, suggesting goshawks used similar stands for nesting and foraging but that they tended to select the most mature stands for nesting. A commonality among nesting and foraging stands was the presence of open spaces between the canopy and understory foliage, and between understory and shrub layer foliage. In our study area, these spaces may have served as relatively unobstructed flight paths where foraging and nesting stands possessed stem densities at the upper end of that reported for goshawk habitat.
Additional publication details
Foraging and nesting habitat of breeding male northern goshawks in the laurentian mixed forest province, Minnesota