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.


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.



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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