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News and Recent Work

Human Influence on Raptors

Study Finds Illegal Killing of Protected Idaho Wildlife More Widespread than Previously Known

(2020) A new study has, for the first time, quantified the problem of the illegal killing of several species of non-game birds and snakes in two conservation areas in southwestern Idaho: the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and the Long-billed Curlew Habitat Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The journal Conservation Science and Practice has published the study by 18 authors representing Boise State University’s Raptor Research Center, Intermountain Bird Observatory, and Department of Biological Sciences; the U.S. Geological Survey; the Idaho Army National Guard; Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota; and Conservation Science Global, Inc., with cooperating partners the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Idaho Power Corporation. Boise State University’s article by Anna Webb describes the study in broad strokes.

Researchers Investigate Climate Change Effects on American Kestrel

(2019) Boise State University news article regarding the work of Raptor Biology professor Dr. Julie Heath and M.S. Raptor Biology Student Sadie Ranck.

New Research Shows Owls’ Ability to Hunt Impaired by Noise

(2016) The study by Jesse Barber, assistant professor of biology at Boise State University, and Tate Mason, Boise State alumnus and education coordinator for The Peregrine Fund, is the first to examine the impact of noise on a predatory bird. Their findings were published in the journal Biological Conservation under the title “Anthropogenic noise impairs owl hunting behavior.”

Migration, Movement, and Dispersal Studies

‘Frequent Fliers’: American Kestrels Take to the Skies in New Study

(2020) Raptor Biology professor Dr. Julie Heath and Raptor Biology Alumna Hanna McCaslin (’19). See Boise State University news article or read the Journal of Animal Ecology article on kestrel dispersal via the British Ecological Society.

Raptor Research Center, Intermountain Bird Observatory, and Fundacion Migres International Migration Project in Tarifa, Spain

(2014) Learn about Boise State University’s collaborative research at the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, with former RRC Director Dr. Marc Bechard and Intermountain Bird Observatory Executive Director Greg Kaltenecker on YouTube. Read Raptor Biology Alumnus Rob Miller‘s (’13) blog about research work on the international migration project in Spain with Fundacion Migres.

Do Migratory Flight Paths of Raptors Follow Constant Geographical or Geomagnetic Courses?

(2006) Published in Animal Behaviour, Volume 72, Issue 4, October 2006, Pages 875-880 – text via Science Direct, by former RRC Director Mark Fuller et al.

Prairie Falcon Movements and Survival with US Geological Survey


Steenhoff, K., M.R. Fuller, M.N. Kockert, and K.K. Bates. 2005. Long-Range Movements and Breeding Dispersal of Prairie Falcons from Southwest Idaho. The Condor 107:481-496.

Steenhoff, K., K.K. Bates, M.R. Fuller, M.N. Kockert, J.O. McKinley, and P.M. Lukacs. 2006. Effects of Radiomarking on Prairie Falcons: Attachment Failures Provide Insights About Survival. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34 (1):116-126.

Stellar's Sea Eagle Movements

Peregrine Falcon and Swainson's Hawk Migration

Movements of Ferruginous Hawks from the Intermountain West

Peregrine Falcon Migration in the Western Hemisphere

Raptor Health

These Adorable Owls Will Not Kill You With Plague

(2015) Raptor Biology professor Dr. Jim Belthoffs research on burrowing owls was featured in Wired magazine. The story talks about fleas that infest the birds and their burrows, which can carry the bacteria that causes plague. Belthoff’s work shows that the owls appear to be immune to the ailment, which presents the opportunity to test if the owls could protect humans from plague. Read the full story (and watch a video).

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