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We developed a habitat suitability model for predicting nest locations of breeding Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) in the high-elevation mixed forest and shrub-steppe habitat of south-central Idaho, USA. We used elevation, slope, aspect, ruggedness, distance-to-water, canopy cover, and individual bands of Landsat imagery as predictors for known nest locations with logistic regression. We found goshawks prefer to nest in gently-sloping, east-facing, non-rugged areas of dense aspen and lodgepole pine forests with low reflectance in green (0.53 - 0.61 μm) wavelengths during the breeding season. We used the model results to classify our 43,169 hectare study area into nesting suitability categories: well suited (8.8%), marginally suited (5.1%), and poorly suited (86.1%). We evaluated our model’s performance by comparing the modeled results to a set of GPS locations of known nests (n = 15) that were not used to develop the model. Observed nest locations matched model results 93.3% of the time for well suited habitat and fell within poorly suited areas only 6.7% of the time. Our method improves on goshawk nesting models developed previously by others and may be applicable for surveying goshawks in adjacent mountain ranges across the northern Great Basin.

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This document was originally published by Scientific Research Publishing in Open Journal of Ecology. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: DOI: 10.4236/oje.2013.32013.