Cooper's Hawk Non-breeding Habitat Use and Home Range in Southwestern Tennessee

There has been considerable interest in the ecology of Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii) in the Southeast since Stoddard's work in the 1930s on northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) identified Cooper's hawks as one of the key predators on bobwhites. Understanding Cooper's hawk-bobwhite relationships has become increasingly important as bobwhite populations have declined and Cooper's hawk populations have increased over the past 30 years. We studied Cooper's hawk diurnal, non-breeding season habitat selection at Ames Plantation in southwestern Tennessee from November 1999-March 2000 and November 2000-March 2001. We captured Cooper's hawks with bal chatri traps baited with house sparrows (Passer domesticus) and fitted them with radio transmitters. We located hawks with radio telemetry and referenced daily locations with global positioning systems. We estimated 95% minimum convex polygon (MCP) for each bird. Diurnal winter habitats used, ranked in order of most to least preferred, were: forests ? edge ? field ? other, based on compositional analysis (? = 0.072, F = 12.84, P = 0.032). The home range of 1 male Cooper's hawk tracked in winter was 331 ha (95% minimum convex polygon); mean size of female home ranges was 836 ha. Avian species made up almost 95% (18 of 19) of recovered prey remains: >50% of remains were passerines; northern bobwhites accounted for 21% (4 of 19) of prey. Two radio-tagged hawks moved to a neighboring plantation and depredated released pen-reared bobwhites. These hawks returned to their original ranges when pen-reared bobwhite releases ceased.

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