We measured productivity and vegetation parameters of habitat quality at 16 Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) nests in and near the greater Montreal area in order to evaluate nesting habitat use and its possible relationship to reproductive success in an urban setting. Mean clutch size was 4.4 and hatching success was 3.8 eggs per nest. At least one egg hatched in 11 of 16 nests (68.8%), 10 (62.5%) pairs raised young to a bandable age (≥10 days old), and 8 (50%) pairs successfully produced at least one fledgling. Immature individuals comprised 33.3% of male and 38.5% of female breeders. Mean values in the habitat assessment included nest tree height, 14.0 m; tree density, 955/ha; total canopy cover, 88.1%; coniferous cover, 39.7%; mean dbh, 17.6 cm; and distance to the nearest forest opening, 19.7 m. Sharp-shinned Hawks nested in a range of forest types, from mature conifer plantations to young, almost purely deciduous stands, and this population exhibited considerable flexibility with respect to most of the habitat features that we measured. Their use of older stands with more deciduous cover than those used by conspecifics elsewhere may reflect regional differences in habitat availability as well as in the abundance of competitor species. Breeding in an urbanized area does not seem to be detrimental to Sharp-shinned Hawks, as evidenced by this population’s relatively large proportion of immature breeders and normal productivity, which appeared to be independent of all the assessed parameters of habitat quality.
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Vol. 114 • No. 4