Podcast

These Birds Need Their Personal Space

Bald Eagles, Gyrfalcons, and other birds of prey keep to themselves, with some pairs maintaining a nesting territory roughly the size of Chicago.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

Transcript:

This is BirdNote.

Nesting Bald Eagles like their privacy. But how much space between one massive nest and the next can vary a lot, and it often depends on the food supply.

Bald Eagles nest near water to hunt fish and waterbirds. And their nesting territories range from 2 and ½ square miles to as large as 15 square miles, depending on how much food there is.

Red-tailed Hawks nest in diverse habitats, from forest edges to canyon cliffs. A pair will typically have a nesting territory of about a half-mile to a full square mile.

Gyrfalcons in Finland and Scandinavia really need their space. And once again, prey plays a crucial role. They feed on pheasant-like birds called ptarmigan. And ptarmigan numbers fluctuate so wildly from year to year that raising young Gyrfalcons is a real challenge.

The last thing these birds need is competition from their neighbors. In one research area, their enormous nests were found—on average—just once every one hundred and seventy-five square miles. That’s like one nesting pair in the whole city limits of Chicago.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

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Credits:

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Bald Eagle, LNS# 137879, recorded by G. Vyn. Red-tailed Hawk, LNS# 202280, recorded by J.W. McGowan. Gyrfalcon, LNS# 138146, recorded by B.J. McCaffery.

Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Michael Stein

BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 BirdNote   November 2019

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