Risk of wind turbine encounters and migration patterns of Swainson’s hawks (Buteo swainsoni) migrating from the Plains of Texas to the Pampas of Argentina
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The Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) breeds across the prairie grasslands of North America and is a species of conservation concern in many states. Each autumn the population migrates en masse from their breeding grounds in North America to their wintering grounds on the Pampas of Argentina, and returns in the spring. With a round trip distance that may exceed 22,000 km, this is one of the longest migrations known for birds of prey. Previous studies have used satellite telemetry to identify the wintering grounds and investigate migratory pathways and movements of Swainson’s Hawks. Yet- many relevant ecological questions remain regarding the migration ecology of the species. Starting in 2012, we attached GPS Platform Transmitter Terminals to male and female Swainson’s Hawks nesting in the panhandle of Texas with the goal of investigating their year-round ecology. These units provide 8 - 12 latitude and longitude coordinates with an 18 m accuracy, speed, heading, and altitude data on a daily basis. We used these data to assess gender-specific movement rates, productivity, potential collision risk, and migration routes of 24 individual Swainson’s hawks during 3 autumnal migrations and 3 vernal migrations.