eWestern Birds

The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists

Vol. 39, No. 4
December 2008
Western Field Ornithologists


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The Changing Status of the Gray Hawk in New Mexico and Adjacent Areas
Sartor O. Williams III and David J. Krueper

ABSTRACT: Historical accounts indicate that the Gray Hawk (Buteo nitidus) was decidedly rare and irregular in New Mexico, with no certain nesting, through the 1980s. The species began to increase in numbers and distribution in southwestern New Mexico in the 1990s, and was documented nesting there in 2004. It arrived in southeastern New Mexico in the lower Pecos River valley in 2005, first nesting there in 2007. Several reports from the Rio Grande valley in south-central New Mexico in 2006 suggest possible expansion into that area as well. The spread in New Mexico coincides with increased numbers and an expanded range in adjacent Arizona and Texas, suggesting the Gray Hawk has been expanding generally northward and higher in elevation for several decades; recent records from the northern Mexican Plateau indicate interior northern Mexico is also included in this expansion. While improved habitat conditions may have aided this increase in local areas, the scale of the range expansion suggests other factors, possibly including increasingly warmer temperatures, may be facilitating this southern raptor to expand northward.

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