Broadcast surveys using conspecific calls are currently the most effective method for detecting northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) during the breeding season. These surveys typically use alarm calls during the nestling phase and juvenile food-begging calls during the fledgling-dependency phase. Because goshawks are most vocal during the courtship phase, we hypothesized that this phase would be an effective time to detect goshawks. Our objective was to improve current survey methodology by evaluating the probability of detecting goshawks at active nests in northern Minnesota in 3 breeding phases and at 4 broadcast distances and to determine the effective area surveyed per broadcast station. Unlike previous studies, we broadcast calls at only 1 distance per trial. This approach better quantifies (1) the relationship between distance and probability of detection, and (2) the effective area surveyed (EAS) per broadcast station. We conducted 99 broadcast trials at 14 active breeding areas. When pooled over all distances, detection rates were highest during the courtship (70%) and fledgling-dependency phases (68%). Detection rates were lowest during the nestling phase (28%), when there appeared to be higher variation in likelihood of detecting individuals. EAS per broadcast station was 39.8 ha during courtship and 24.8 ha during fledgling-dependency. Consequently, in northern Minnesota, broadcast stations may be spaced 712m and 562 m apart when conducting systematic surveys during courtship and fledgling-dependency, respectively. We could not calculate EAS for the nestling phase because probability of detection was not a simple function of distance from nest. Calculation of EAS could be applied to other areas where the probability of detection is a known function of distance.
Additional publication details
Do breeding phase and detection distance influence the effective area surveyed for northern goshawks?