Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, nest site selection pattern in relation to stands and their location factors in Central Lithuania, Central Eastern Europe
Environmental changes are expected in Europe due to ongoing timber harvesting in forests and changes in agriculture practices in cultivated areas. This study aimed to determine whether the nest site characteristics of the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo – a generalist raptor – have changed over time due to ongoing changes in forests and agricultural areas that are highly important for its breeding. A comparison of Common Buzzard nest sites occupied in 2002–2004 with nest sites occupied in 2017–2018 in commercially managed forests indicated certain changes. Common Buzzards preferred to nest in more mature stands with the higher proportion of deciduous trees in composition of the first tree layer. The location of stands in regard to agricultural areas did not shape habitat choice. The oak was most important nests tree. The nest sites of the Common Buzzard remained similar in terms of location within the landscape, however, age of stands used for nest significantly increased. In summary, these results suggest that Common Buzzard nest site selection pattern was driven by stand level decisions, but were not shaped by the landscape features. These findings indicate that behavioural plasticity typically assumed for this ubiquitous raptor may not necessarily act at the all levels of nest site selection process, which may further indicate species potential sensitivity to the changes in forest utilisation intensity.
Keywords: habitat selection, raptor, forestry impact