Shift in nesting ground of the long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) in Judea, Israel - An effect of habitat change

Guilad Friedemann, Yoram Yom-Tov, Uzi Motro, Yossi Leshem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Until the 1980s, at least 31 pairs of long-legged buzzards (Buteo rufinus) nested along the streams of the Judean Mountains in Israel, mostly on rocky cliffs, which - according to existing literature - is the common nesting style of this bird. During the past 40. years, however, nesting in these areas has substantially decreased, with many pairs of buzzards now nesting on trees in the Judean Foothills. We suggest that the geographical shift in nesting area, and with it the dramatic change from nesting on cliffs to nesting on trees, is probably due to the increase in land cover (as a result of afforestation, expansion of human settlements and recovery of the Mediterranean chaparral) that has taken place in the Judean Mountains during the last four decades. Buzzards forage in open habitats and the change in land cover has hindered their ability to locate prey. Since there are no cliffs appropriate for nesting in the Judean Foothills, the buzzards were thus forced to adapt to a new style of nesting. This hypothesis is further supported by our observations that within their new nesting grounds in the Judean Foothills, breeding success was significantly related to the area of the open habitat within the territory. These findings have important scientific and ecological implications. We recommend that foresters should take into consideration the effect of afforestation on open-landscape raptors, and while planning new forests will consider also their needs, particularly leaving large open swaths of land as foraging grounds for such raptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-406
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume144
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Keywords

  • Afforestation
  • Buteo rufinus
  • Habitat change
  • Land cover
  • Long-legged buzzard
  • Nesting style
  • Population shift

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