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Nest site selection by Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owls in southern Arizona
 
Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owlBackground:
The distribution and density of cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) may be limited by the availability of suitable nesting habitat. Consequently, it is important to identify specific structural characteristics used by pygmy-owls when selecting a place to nest. Presently, large columnar cacti represent the primary known cavity substrate used for nesting by pygmy-owls in Sonoran desertscrub. Current data limitations preclude any credible prediction of potential nesting habitat. This project proposes to identify habitats selected by nesting pygmy-owls in Sonoran desertscrub habitat.

Location:
We will focus our survey efforts in those portions of Pima and southern Pinal counties where nesting pygmy-owls have been located in the past. Currently most of the known nesting pygmy-owls occur within the Sonoran desertscrub upland habitat in the northern Tucson Basin and Altar Valley.

Approach:
Urban nest site of a Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl in Tucson, Arizona. (S. Richardson)We will characterize the structure and composition of vegetation at known pygmy-owl nest sites. Within a 15m diameter circular plot centered on each identified nest we will measure density of cacti and woody plants, non-herbaceous plant species composition, index of vertical vegetation density, tree crown diameter, and percent ground cover. We will also measure the following physiographic variables: distances to nearest road, man-made structure, available water, and desert wash. In addition to these variables, the cavity aspect, internal dimensions, height from the ground and diameter will be measured.

Benefits:
Research results will also provide useful information about the distribution of pygmy-owls in southern Arizona. Identifying the habitat requirements of pygmy-owls will better enable wildlife managers and urban planners to develop management prescriptions that can ensure future viability of pygmy-owls in Arizona.

For more information contact:
Michael Ingraldi, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000 .
Phone: (928) 523-5625 E-mail: mingraldi@cybertrails.com

Shawn Lowery, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000 .
Phone: (520) 742-1911 E-mail: slowery@gf.state.az.us
 
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