Term of Award

Spring 2006

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

John W. Parrish

Committee Member 1

William S. Irby

Committee Member 2

Jonathan Copeland

Abstract

This study involved a survey of the distribution and the reproductive biology of the rare southeastern subspecies of the American kestrel, Falco sparverius paulus, which was found to be breeding in the hollow cross-arms of the 230 kV electrical transmission towers between the Offerman substation in the east, to Plant Mitchell (Putney), in the west, in south-central Georgia. This subspecies of the kestrel has declined in the southeastern United States by more than 80% over the last fifty years, and populations of F.S. Paulus have nearly disappeared below the Fall Line in Georgia. The major factor contributing to this decline is the lack of adequate nest sites in this obligate secondary cavity nester. The current research showed this population in south-central Georgia to be the largest population of kestrel anywhere in the state of Georgia, and likely larger than any other population in the southeastern United States, other than in Central Florida, with more than two hundred fifty nesting pairs being found in both summers of the study. The highest usage of tubular poles occurred when a second, nontubular line ran parallel with the tubular cross-armed line. A higher number of kestrels were observed nesting in poles that were located in farmland regions in both 2003 and 2004 than woodland or residential regions. In addition, kestrels were observed to nest in a tubular PVC-nest site, which was erected as a possible alternative nest site should any of the tubular, cross-armed transmission towers have to be removed in future years. Overall, this research continues the collection of data on F.s. paulus in southern Georgia, and continues to provide essential demographic data of this subspecies of concern in Georgia, as has been shown in previous studies of this subspecies in Florida.

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