Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science


This study was conducted in 1979 and 1980 to determine abundance, productivity, food habits, and ranges of raptors utilizing shelterbelts were in a 78 km² Brookings County study area. The shelterbelts were heterogeneous stands of trees and shrubsplanted in linear rows. Major tree species included elm (Ulmus spp.), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), cottonwood (Populus deltoids), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), and eastern red cedar (Juniperus scopulorum). Major shrub species included honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) and lilac (Syringa vulgaris). Ninety-eight raptors were observed on the study area over the 2 breeding seasons investigated (1979-1980). Species observed were the American kestrel (Falco sparverius), Swainson’s hawk (Butwo Swainsoni), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) and screech owl (Otus asio). Density figures for 1979 and 1980 were 0.60 and 0.65 birds/km², respectively. IN 1979, 12 active nests contained 28 eggs and 15 fledged young, while in 1980, 11 nests contained 32 eggs and 27 young capable of sustained flight. Based upon a total of 520 pellets examined for food habits there was a significant difference in prey consumed between species both years. Most frequently occurring food items were: Peromyscus spp. in great horned owl pellets, ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.) and birds in red-tailed hawk pellets, ground squirrels and rabbits (Lagopmorpha) in Swainson’s hawk pellets, and insects, birds, and Microtus spp. in American kestrel pellets. Observations on raptor perch selection and habitat utilization between species were also made.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Birds of prey -- Nests -- South Dakota
Windbreaks, shelterbelts, etc. -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 44-48)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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