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Variation in Prey Delivered to Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) Nests in Arizona Drainage Basins

Etzel, Kenneth E., Theimer, Tad C., Johnson, Matthew J., Holmes, Jennifer A.
The Journal of raptor research 2014 v.48 no.1 pp. 54-60
amphibians, birds of prey, crayfish, diet, fish, fossils, nests, reptiles, rivers, streams, watersheds, Arizona
Understanding how raptor diets vary across local and regional scales can be important when human actions have the potential to alter prey abundances. We combined data on prey delivered to 16 Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) nests in three tributaries of the Verde River, Arizona, in 2008 and 2009 with similar data reported previously (1994) for three other Arizona drainage basins to better understand variation in diet composition within and across drainage basins. Within the three drainage basins studied in 2008 and 2009, nests clustered into two groups: those along Fossil Creek, where fish and amphibians were common, and those in Wet Beaver and Oak Creek drainage basins, where reptiles and nonnative crayfish were more abundant. When data from all six drainage basins were combined, drainage basins again clustered into two groups, with prey deliveries in one cluster dominated by fish and amphibians and in the other cluster by reptiles. These results confirm the opportunistic nature of prey use by Common Black-Hawks and highlight the variation in diet that can occur both within and among drainage basins. Management targeting the eradication of nonnative crayfish or the reintroduction of native amphibians and fish could alter prey availability for this raptor species.