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Reproduction of ferruginous hawks buteo regalis exposed to controlled disturbance

Reproduction of ferruginous hawks buteo regalis exposed to controlled disturbance

Condor 87(1): 14-22

The ferruginous hawk (B. regalis) is a conspicuous grassland bird that is sensitive to human disturbance. In 1978 and 1979, 62 nesting pairs and their behavior and nesting success were studied. At 24 of these nests, daily disturbances were created to simulate those associated with land development on western rangelands. The other nests were not disturbed. Treated nests and control nests differed significantly (P < 0.05) in the number that successfully fledged young. Of the disturbed nests 33% were deserted by the adults, although the disturbance in the vicinity of the nest was brief. Those disturbed nests that were successful fledged significantly fewer young (P < 0.05) than undisturbed nests. Adults did not flush 60% of the time if the activities were > 120 m from the nest and 90% of the time if they were > 250 m from it. Accordingly, for intermittent and brief human disturbance during years when prey are abundant and ferruginous hawks are in good physiological condition, a minimum buffer zone of 0.25 km around the nest seems sufficient to prevent nest desertion by at least 90% of the population. Buffer zones should be expanded in years when prey are scarce, i.e., when the hawks appear to be less tolerant of disturbance.

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Accession: 006315888

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