New Publication: Broad-winged Hawks Overwintering in the Neotropics

Posted on July 06, 2021 in Science

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, Pennsylvania — Authors: Sandra Cuadros, Rebecca A. McCabe, Laurie J. Goodrich, and David R. Barber

Broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus) are known for their long-distance migrations travelling from their nesting grounds in North America to winter in Central and South America. However, information on their winter habitat or the land cover composition of their wintering sites, as well as the threats to these areas remains limited. Researchers from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary's Broad-winged Hawk Project started deploying transmitters on nesting broad-winged hawks in Pennsylvania in 2014 to help uncover the mysteries of their annual cycle.

Hawk Mountain researchers found that Pennsylvania nesting broad-winged hawks wintered in Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. Within their winter ranges, land cover composition consisted primarily of forest including evergreen sub-montane forests, lowland non-flooded forests, and lowland flooded evergreen forests, all of which are in less-disturbed interior forests. They also found that illegal mining was a common disturbance in southern Peru forests, forest fires were prevalent in wintering areas in western Brazil, and deforestation was occurring to some degree in all broad-winged hawk wintering areas. 

Lead author, Sandra Cuadros adds, "Nuestros resultados sugieren que el Aguilucho de Ala ancha utiliza grandes áreas de bosque contiguas. Sin embargo, estos bosques Amazónicos se encuentran amenazados por una gran variedad de perturbaciones antrópicas. Esto resalta la importancia de generar estrategias de conservación como áreas protegidas y corredores naturales que permitan proteger a esta y otras especies de bosque.”
“Our results suggest that broad-winged hawks use large areas of contiguous forests. However, these forests are threatened by a great variety of anthropogenic disturbances. This highlights the importance of generating conservation strategies like protected areas and natural corridors that allow for the protection of this and other forest species.”

Broad-winged Hawks Overwintering in the Neotropics: Landscape Composition and Threats in Wintering Areas of a Long-distance Migrant is available for download here.

About the journal: The Journal of Raptor Research is a peer-reviewed, international journal dedicated to the dissemination of information about birds of prey, and is the official publication of the Raptor Research Foundation.