Response of Red-Tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles to Topographical Features, Weather, and Abundance of a Dominant Prey Species at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, California: April 1999-December 2000

Report

Title: Response of Red-Tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles to Topographical Features, Weather, and Abundance of a Dominant Prey Species at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, California: April 1999-December 2000
Authors: Hoover, S.
Publication Date:
June 01, 2002
Document Number: 15000694
Sponsoring Organization:
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Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
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Citation

Hoover, S. (2002). Response of Red-Tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles to Topographical Features, Weather, and Abundance of a Dominant Prey Species at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, California: April 1999-December 2000. Report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). pp.
Abstract: 

Studies have shown that raptors flying within the Altamont Pass WRA are vulnerable to fatal turbine collisions, possibly because of their specific foraging and flight behavior. Between June 1999 and June 2000, I conducted 346.5 hours of raptor observations within the Atlamont Pass WRA. Behavior was recorded in relation to characteristics of the topography (slope aspect, elevation, and inclination), the weather, and ground squirrel abundance, as determined by active burrow entrances. The most significant finding of this study revealed that red-tailed hawks and golden eagles flew more in strong winds than in weak winds, particularly along hillsides facing into prevailing winds (as opposed to hillsides shielded from the wind). This is likely a result of the birds' use of declivity currents for lift during flights. These results suggest that certain combinations of topography and weather produce wind currents that are sought out by foraging red-tailed hawks and golden eagles within the Altamont Pass WRA. To decrease raptor mortality, mitigation measures can be targeted to specific areas likely to attract foraging raptors because of their capacity to create particularly favorable wind currents.

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