We studied the reproductive success of an urban–suburban red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) population in southeast Wisconsin, USA, over a 14-year period, and we used productivity as a measure of habitat quality. Red-tailed hawk reproductive success for our study in southeast Wisconsin, USA, is consistent with other studies across North America, averaging 80.1% nesting success and 1.36 young per laying pair. Productivity for 1994 was significantly greater than other years. Red-tailed hawk productivity, an index of habitat quality, varied with habitat composition surrounding nest sites. Wetland area was the only habitat type that was significantly greater for low-productivity sites, indicating that wetlands were not beneficial for red-tailed hawk productivity in our study area. Urban habitat characteristics (i.e., area of roads and high-density urban land) were greater for high-productivity sites, and the landscape consisted of smaller habitat patches. This indicates that urban–suburban locations provided high-quality habitat for red-tailed hawks in our study area. Higher productivity in high-density urban areas suggests that the urban red-tailed hawk may be a source, not a sink, population in the metropolitan Milwaukee area. Increased nesting on human-made structures in urban locations and enhanced reproductive success for these nests reinforce this hypothesis and suggest that red-tailed hawks are adapting to this urban environment. Resource managers and urban land-use planners can incorporate high-quality red-tailed hawk habitat characteristics into urban land-use plans, thus insuring that individuals with increased fitness persist in this urban landscape.
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Vol. 70 • No. 4