Great Basin Naturalist


A total of 28 Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) and 30 Red-tailed Hawk (B. jamaicensis) nests were found in Cache Valley, Utah, during the summers of 1992 and 1993. All nests were in trees, but only Red-tailed Hawks nested in dead trees (30%). In the intensive study area, nesting densities were 0.10 nests/km2 for Swainson's Hawk and 0.08 nests/km2 for Red-tailed Hawk. Nearest-neighbor nest distances were significantly shorter among Swainson's Hawks (1.74 km) than among Red-tailed Hawks (2.83 km). Congeneric nearest-neighbor distances were significantly shorter than conspecific distances for Red-tailed Hawks (1.59 vs. 2.83 km) but not for Swainson's Hawks (1.52 vs. 1.74). GIS analysis of habitat types was made for 2-km radii around nest sites. Cropland was the dominant land cover type at nest sites of both species and no significant difference was found between species. Swainson's Hawk nest sites contained significantly more pasture, whereas Red-tailed Hawk nest sites contained significantly more juniper, maple, and sagebrush. Only Red-tailed Hawk nests (n = 8; 27%) were found on the periphery of the valley at the base of foothills of the Cache Mountains. This preference resulted in a significantly higher elevation for Red-tailed Hawk nest sites. Swainson's Hawk nests occurred only on the valley floor on level terrain. Distance to the nearest paved road and building was very similar for both species, implying that little difference exists in tolerance levels for human activities. Overall, multivariate niche overlap for habitat was high (0.89), indicating a lack of habitat partitioning between these 2 Buteos in Cache Valley.