We report the results of a 40-year study of the western Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus elegans) involving the banding of 2742 nestlings in southern California from 1970 to 2009 (this study) plus 127 nestlings banded in other California studies (1956–2008) and the analyses of 119 records of subsequent recovery from the Bird Banding Laboratory (1957–2009). Of the Red-shouldered Hawks recovered, 109 (91.6%) moved <100 km (short-distance dispersers), while 10 (8.4%) moved >100 km (long-distance dispersers). Three (2.5%), all long-distance dispersers, were vagrants (recovered outside the species' range of residency), and were found 374 to 843 km northeast and south of their banding locations in the Mojave, Great Basin, and Vizcaino deserts. The distribution of directions of short-distance dispersal was bipolar, closely corresponding with the northwest—southeast orientation of the species' range in southern California, while that of long-distance dispersers was mainly to the north. One of 10 long-distance dispersers, a nonvagrant, survived well into the age of breeding (103.0 months), whereas eight of the other nine perished before 14.5 months. The implications of vagrancy for conservation of this resident subspecies are that a relatively small source area can contribute genetic material over a vastly larger receiving area but rarely does so because of high mortality rates. Nonetheless, the movements of vagrants we documented provide evidence for the species' potential to populate new landscapes in response to changing environmental conditions and to maintain genetic heterogeneity within existing populations.
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