Accipiter hawks of the Laurentian Upland and the Interior Plains undertake the longest migrations: insights from birds banded or recovered in Veracruz, Mexico

Authors: Enya Astrid Cordoba-Cuevas, Sara Patricia Ibarra-Zavaleta, and Ernesto Ruelas Inzunza

Year: 2020

Publication: Journal of Field Ornithology

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Keyword: Accipiter cooperii, Accipiter striatus, banding, migratory connectivity, migration distance, Veracruz River of Raptors

Abstract: Bird banding has allowed us to understand diverse aspects of the life histories of migratory raptors. However, most banding stations are located at northern latitudes so what we know about the movements of these raptors is biased toward higher latitudes, primarily from Canada and the United States, leaving important gaps in our knowledge of their movements at lower latitudes. Our objective was to describe the migratory movements of Sharp-shinned (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s (A. cooperii) hawks based on banding and recapture records of birds that migrate through Veracruz, Mexico. More specifically, we sought to determine their breeding, migration, and non-breeding locations, estimate their migration distances, and contribute to a better understanding of their migration patterns. With a total of 80 records, we calculated migration distances and used Kernel Density Estimation analyses to identify where these hawks were recaptured or recovered by season. The distribution of recaptures and recoveries largely coincided with
breeding locations in the Laurentian Upland and the Interior Plains physiographic regions. All migration records follow a trajectory that extends from the midwestern United States to the Gulf coastal plain of Mexico. The mean breeding season migration distance to Veracruz was 3374 km (a difference of 27 degrees of latitude) for Sharp-shinned Hawks and 2926 km (a difference of 25 degrees of latitude) for Cooper’s Hawks. Our non-breeding records indicate that populations of Accipiter hawks from these North American populations migrate the longest distances to reach Central America, the southernmost distribution of their migratory populations. Distances covered by both species represent round-trip migrations that may be as long as 10,000 km. Our results support those of previous studies and illustrate how continental physiography influences the migration routes, migratory behavior, and migratory connectivity of these hawks.

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