My work suggests that the breeding ecology of the goshawk population in the sagebrush steppe habitat of the Independence and Bull Run Mountains is similar to that of other goshawk populations in the western United States. However, I have demonstrated significant declines in occupancy of nesting areas by breeding pairs, and significant increases in breeding failure. Although the causes of these trends remain unknown, my analyses indicate that weather is significantly related to goshawk breeding in the study area, and that Belding’s ground squirrel is an important prey species for this goshawk population. Both these factors have the potential to influence goshawk reproduction and survival, and thus provide suitable mechanisms for the reported trends.
Although few goshawks that were banded as nestlings in the study area ever returned to breed or were re-sighted elsewhere, limited band recovery information suggests that goshawks in this habitat type move up to 200 km to find nesting areas.
Thus, my research provides evidence for the movement of goshawks throughout the Intermountain West, and lends support to the hypothesis that the region acts as a large goshawk metapopulation.
Fairhurst, G.D. and M.J. Bechard. 2005. Relationships between winter and spring weather and Northern Goshawk (Accipiter Gentilis) reproduction in northern Nevada. Journal of Raptor Research 39(3):229-236.
Bechard, M.J., G.D. Fairhurst, and G.S. Kaltenecker. 2005. Occupancy, productivity, turnover, and dispersal of Northern Goshawks in portions of the northeastern Great Basin. Studies in Avian Biology 31:100-108.