A critical element of diet analysis is species adaptability to alternative prey sources. The breeding-season diet of Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) includes both mammalian and avian species, varies geographically, and is often dependent upon tree squirrels of the genera Sciurus andTamiasciurus. We studied alternative prey sources of Northern Goshawks in the South Hills of south-central Idaho, an area where tree squirrels are naturally absent and other prey frequently important in the diet of goshawks, such as smaller corvids, are uncommon. We quantified the diet of goshawks using nest cameras and surveyed abundance of prey using line transects. We found that goshawks consumed roughly 18.5% birds and 78.7% mammals by biomass, with diet dominated by the Belding's ground squirrel (Urocitellus beldingi, also known as Spermophilus beldingi; 74.8% of total biomass consumed); however, the percentages of mammals and birds in the diet varied between years. The diet was low in diversity, with high overlap among nests, indicating a strong local dependence on the dominant food item. Lastly, the proportion of mammalian prey in the diet was greater in larger broods than in smaller broods. This study provides new insight into the adaptability of the goshawk, particularly in areas with unique prey assemblages.
This document was originally published by Raptor Research Foundation in Journal of Raptor Research. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.3356/0892-1016-48.1.1
Miller, Robert A.; Carlisle, Jay D.; and Bechard, Marc J.. (2014). "Effects of Prey Abundance on Breeding Season Diet of Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) Within an Unusual Prey Landscape". Journal of Raptor Research, 48(1), 1-12.