Hunting success of wintering Swainson’s hawks: environmental effects on timing and choice of foraging method
SARASOLA, J.H. & J.J. NEGRO. 2005. Hunting success of wintering Swainson’s hawks: environmental effects on timing and choice of foraging method. Journal of Zoology 83: 1353-1359.
Abstract: We examined the predatory behavior of Swainson’s hawks (Buteo swainsoni Bonaparte, 1838) wintering inthe Argentine pampas. Aerial and ground foraging were the main hunting methods employed by hawks in this region. The overall hunting success of hawks preying on insects was 50% and age-related differences in hunting success were not significant. The Swainson’s hawks, however, hunted more successfully in the air (65% of prey capture attempts) than on the ground (42%). Aerial hunting while soaring was the most successful hunting method based on the number of prey captured per energy unit. Based on the analysis of prey consumed by hawks during the study period, grasshopper species with poor flight capabilities were available in the air as a consequence of the vertical air motion. With regards to daily activity patterns, the time that a hawk spent using each hunting method was not proportional to the cost ratio associated with each method. Hawks foraged in the air only during midday hours when weather conditions permitted the formation of thermals. Thus, the use of soaring flights and the availability of prey in the air were constrained by the physical environment, and hawks could only exploit airborne food sources during limited periods of the day.
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