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A major factor influencing the quality of raptor habitats is food availability, which is determined not only by prey density, but also by various habitat features influencing the accessibility of prey. Many raptors hunt ground-living prey by using the energy-saving pause-travel search tactic. If perches to hunt from are lacking, a habitat may be difficult to exploit even if prey is abundant; hence perches are an important component of prey availability. The boreal forest landscape is drastically changed by very intensive forest management. Clearcuts, where mature forest has been harvested, are rich in prey (rodents) but lack perches. An experiment was performed to test if abundance of perches is a factor limiting the utilization of these habitats by foraging raptors. Eleven clearcuts were provided with man-made perches, and 11 clearcuts served as control. Foraging raptors used clearcuts with perches significantly more than clearcuts lacking perches, and raptor utilization changed accordingly when the control and experimental areas were switched.
Journal of Avian Biology © 1994 Nordic Society Oikos