We compared the breeding biology of sympatric nesting Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), White-tailed Hawks (Buteo albicaudatus), and Crested Caracaras (Caracara cheriway) in south Texas during 2003 and 2004. We monitored 46 breeding attempts by Red-tailed Hawks, 56 by White-tailed Hawks, and 27 by Crested Caracaras. Observed nesting success was similar for Red-tailed Hawks (62%) and Crested Caracaras (61%), but lower for White-tailed Hawks (51%). Daily survival rates (0.99) were the same for all three species. Red-tailed Hawks and White-tailed Hawks both fledged 1.13 young per nesting pair and Crested Caracaras fledged 1.39 young per nesting pair. All three species nested earlier in 2004 than in 2003; in addition, the overall nesting density of these three species almost doubled from 2003 (1.45 pairs/km2) to 2004 (2.71 pairs/km2). Estimated productivity of all three species was within the ranges reported from other studies. Given extensive and progressive habitat alteration in some areas of south Texas, and the limited distributions of White-tailed Hawks and Crested Caracaras, the presence of large ranches managed for free-range cattle production and hunting leases likely provides important habitat and may be key areas for conservation of these two species.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1