Breeding Biology and Habitat Requirements of the White Hawk (Leucopternis Albicollis) in Guatemala

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Raptor Biology



Major Advisor

William Burnham


Observations were made on White Hawks (Leucopternis albicollis) in Tikal National Park, Guatemala between February and July of 1991, 1992 and 1993. Nine nests were located and White Hawk nesting behavior and food habits were recorded. White Hawks began courtship displays and nest building in February, and by mid-to-late March egg laying and incubation began. Seven different species of trees were utilized as nest sites. Only one pair reoccupied a nest tree from a previous breeding season. The mean diameter at breast height (DBH) of nest trees was 65.8 cm and the nest height averaged 22.2 m above the ground (n = 8 nests). External nest measurements averaged 41.4 x 62.0 cm across and 29.6 cm deep (n = 9 nests). Six nests were observed during incubation and each had a clutch size of one egg. The average incubation period was 35 days (range 34 - 38 days). Three nestlings fledged at 65, 66, and 88 days of age. Immature birds were found at two nests near the end of the 1991 field season. Of the nine nesting attempts observed, seven eggs hatched (77%), and five of the seven young fledged (71%). All five young fledged during June and July. I observed 214 prey items delivered to nests. Of the 168 that were identified, 68.5% were reptiles, 18.5% mammals, 6.5% birds, 4.2% insects, and 2.3% amphibians. The home ranges for two breeding males were 248 ha and 290 ha. Although yellow is the reported eye color for this subspecies, all 23 birds observed closely in northern Guatemala had brown eyes.

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