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ESR 24:73-83 (2014)  -  DOI:

Influence of anthropogenic features and traffic disturbance on burrowing owl diurnal roosting behavior

C. Scobie1,*, E. Bayne1, T. Wellicome1,2

1Department of Biological Sciences, CW 405, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada
2Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, 9250 49 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta T6B 1K5, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Birds that forage nocturnally should select daytime roosts that minimize predation risk to themselves, maximize their ability to warn mates or young about predators, and reduce their exposure to inclement weather. The objective of this study was to identify landscape features used by burrowing owls Athene cunicularia hypugaea during the day and to determine if traffic disturbance altered patterns of daytime space use. We tracked 17 adult male owls for 0.6 to 2.8 d each with GPS dataloggers and used resource utilization and resource selection functions to examine the response of each owl to nest burrows, perches, and roads. Selection for roads decreased as average vehicle speed increased. Roads with vehicle speeds >80 km h-1 were avoided. Owls may avoid roads with high traffic speeds because auditory disturbance from passing vehicles interferes with their ability to communicate the presence of predators to their mates and young. Owls also spent more time near fences and posts, likely because these elevated perches are good vantage points for predator detection. Perches near burrowing owl nests should be maintained, and speed limits on roads near burrowing owl nests should be set to <80 km h-1 to help ensure owls are able to effectively detect and react to predators.

KEY WORDS: Habitat selection · Roost · Traffic · Burrowing owl · Noise · Road

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Cite this article as: Scobie C, Bayne E, Wellicome T (2014) Influence of anthropogenic features and traffic disturbance on burrowing owl diurnal roosting behavior. Endang Species Res 24:73-83.

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