Habitat use of raptors in response to anthropogenic land use on Bonaire and Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
We conducted fieldwork on Bonaire and Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, to assess the distribu- tion and abundance of resident diurnal raptors. In total, seventy-three 1 km2 sample plots were selected following a stratified random method and three landscape types were distinguished, i.e. cultivated area, hills and terrace. The diurnal raptors observed were the Crested Caracara Caracara plancus (93 records), White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus (37), and the American Kestrel Falco sparverius (44 on Curaçao only). In the hills and on the terraces, all species were more abundant on Curaçao than on Bonaire. Caracaras were found significantly more in hills compared to terraces or cultivated land on both islands, as did White-tailed Hawks on Curaçao. The American Kestrel made more use of cultivated area and least of hills. As detection of the raptors did not seem to differ between the landscapes and between the islands, we infer that the observed differences in distribution are a true reflection of their habitat use. Our results suggest that the ongoing urbanization on Curaçao and Bonaire may lead to a decline in the Caracara and the White-tailed Hawk. For the American Kestrel, cultivated areas – including urbanized parts – apparently provide the open area the birds need for hunting.