/ Modified feb 13, 2013 5:49 p.m.

Urban Raptors Learn to Co-Exist

Owls, hawks, others adapt to city life, despite hazards


Modern human settlements have been detrimental to many types of wildlife around the world, but some species in Arizona are adapting to urban environments.

In Tucson, for example, some raptors - hawks, owls and similar birds - are using utility poles as spots to build nests and rear their young. They are also finding a steady supply of prey such as small mammals and doves as food sources.

However, life in the city can create dangers that have not been part of the animals' evolutionary history, says a University of Arizona researcher.

Bill Mannan, a professor and researcher at the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment, has been studying these large birds and the number of electrocutions that occur when they dwell among electric equipment.

He and his student researchers have found that most of the electrocutions take place within about 300 meters of nest sites.

"And often times, it's the offspring of that particular year because they're kind of clumsy, and when they land on these poles they flop around a little bit" Mannan says.

He and other scientists have been cooperating with Tucson Electric Power Company on its Raptor Protection Program, which works on covering potential hazards for the birds and building platforms for their nests.

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