Size dimorphism, molt status, and body mass variation of Prairie Falcons nesting in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Journal of Raptor Research
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Abstract

Birds face challenges in how they allocate energy during the reproductive season. Most temperate zone species do not breed and molt at the same time, presumably because of the high energy demands of these two activities (Espie et al. 1996 and citations therein). However, representatives of at least four raptor genera are known to molt during the nesting season (Schmutz and Schmutz 1975, Newton and Marquiss 1982, Schmutz 1992, Espie et al. 1996). Molt strategies vary among raptor species depending on prey abundance, migration strategies, and the relative costs of reproduction. Sexually-dimorphic raptors typically have different roles in parenting, which result in different strategies for energy allocation. Male and female Eurasian Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), for example, exhibit different molt patterns and mass changes during the breeding season (Village 1990). Prairie Falcons (Falco mexicanus) are similar to Eurasian Kestrels in that males provide most of the prey to females and young during the first part of the nesting season (Holthuijzen 1990), but no published data exist on molt patterns or mass changes in Prairie Falcons. Reliable information about raptor molt and morphometrics has important implications for modeling energetics and for understanding the role of sexes in raising young. Such knowledge also has practical application for distinguishing sexes of raptors and for determining appropriate size limits of transmitters used for telemetry studies. In this paper, we report on morphometric characteristics useful in distinguishing sexes of Prairie Falcons captured during several breeding seasons in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA), and we assess changes in mass and molt status through the nesting season.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Size dimorphism, molt status, and body mass variation of Prairie Falcons nesting in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Series title Journal of Raptor Research
DOI 10.3356/0892-1016(2006)40[71:SDMSAB]2.0.CO;2
Volume 40
Issue 1
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher The Raptor Research Foundation
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 5 p.
First page 71
Last page 75
Country United States
State Idaho
Other Geospatial Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area