A. Daily Activity.
1. Daily activity changes from season to season.
a. During the winter months, diurnal birds of prey spend most of their time hunting, sitting (perching when not hunting), and roosting (sleeping or perching at a sleeping location). When sitting and roosting, birds typically spend time preening (maintaining their feathers).
b. During the spring and summer, time is spent hunting, sitting, roosting, defending territory, pair-bonding, nest building, incubating eggs, and brooding young.
2. Daily activity varies between males and females during different seasons.
a. In one study for example, male and female kestrels in winter spent approximately the same amount of time per 24-hour day hunting, sitting, and roosting (Brooke and Birkhead, 1991).
b. However, during spring incubation, female kestrels spent 65% of the day incubating, 2% hunting, 4% sitting, and 29% roosting. Males spent 8% of the time incubating, 46% hunting, 17% sitting, and 29% roosting (Brooke and Birkhead, 1991).
c. In summer, when nestlings were present, female kestrels spent 13% of the day brooding, 45% hunting, 17% sitting, and 25% roosting. Males, on the other hand, spent no time brooding, 54% of the time hunting, 21% of the time sitting, and 25% of the time roosting (Brooke and Birkhead, 1991).
B. Social behavior.
1. As a group, diurnal birds of prey are not particularly social birds. The main social unit is the breeding pair.
2. Some species, such as broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus), defend territories in the breeding season, but migrate as a flock.
3. Other species, such as the cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres), nest in colonies, and hunt alone or in groups. Colonies are an adaptation to limited nesting and feeding areas. Most pairs defend their own nest area, but may join other colony members to help drive away potential predators.
4. Carrion-eating birds of the same and different species are often seen feeding on the same carcass.
Both male and female diurnal birds of prey typically vocalize in defense of territory and when courting mates. Except for a few species, like the chanting goshawks (genus Melierax ), the vocals are not melodic, but a series of short, loud calls or whistles. New World vultures vocalize through wheezes, snorts, and hisses, due to their lack of a syrinx.
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