Written by: M. Green
Reviewed by: L. Mewaldt
Edited by: R. Duke, D. Winkler
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
A fairly common to common, yearlong resident
throughout most of California, with a few
exceptions. Rare in the Central Valley, at high elevations in
the Sierra Nevada, and along the
central California coast (Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara cos.).
Numbers appear to be
increasing in the northern Sacramento Valley and the Cascades (McCaskie
et al. 1979).
Found at all elevations throughout the state. Some downslope
movement in mountains in
winter (Gaines 1977b). Occurs in most habitats. Resident
on the Channel Islands (Garrett
and Dunn 1981). Nested regularly on the Farallon Islands until
extirpated in 1911 (DeSante
and Ainley 1980).
SPECIFIC HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
Feeding: Eats carrion, small vertebrates
(including mice and rabbits), bird eggs and
young, insects, seeds and grains, nuts, and berries and other fruits
(Bent 1946). Gleans from
the ground, searches for food in flight, and pursues prey. Caches
food. Ejects pellets.
Cover: Trees and cliffs in a wide variety
of habitats provide cover. Roosts in colony at
night, mostly in trees.
Reproduction: Nest is a mass of twigs
and sticks bound with earth and moss and
well-lined with soft vegetation and hair (Harrison 1978). Nest
usually placed on cliff or bluff,
but also in a tall tree or human-made structure. Mostly 6.1 to
30 m (20-100 ft) above ground.
On cliff, may nest within 100-200 m (350-700 ft) of prairie falcon
nest (Dawson 1923, Mewaldt
personal observation). Sometimes uses old raptor nest (Airola
Water: No information found.
Pattern: Grinnell and Miller (1944) noted
2 features usually present in occupied habitat:
large expanses of sparse, open terrain for foraging, and cliffs, bluffs,
or sea walls for nest
SPECIES LIFE HISTORY
Activity Patterns: Yearlong, diurnal
Seasonal Movements/Migration: Mostly
a yearlong resident. May wander or move
downslope from high elevations in winter. Little information
available about movements or
other aspects of life history of populations in western U.S., especially
in mountainous areas.
Home Range: In Wyoming, home range averaged
938 ha (2317 ac), varying from
680-1080 ha (1680-2668 ac) (Craighead and Craighead 1956). In
Great Britain, breeding
density reported as 1 pair per 17-46 km² (6.6 to 17.6 mi²)
(Ratcliffe 1962). In Virginia, 1 pair
per 29 km² (11 mi²) reported by Hooper et al. (1975).
Territory: Defends a territory, but no
data found on size.
Reproduction: Pair nests solitariIy from
mid-February into July with peak activity in May
and June. Lays 3-7 eggs, usually 4-6; incubated by female for
20-21 days. Male feeds
incubating female. Altricial young tended by both parents.
Nestlings fledge at 5-6 wk
Niche: Preys on bird eggs and young as
as on small vertebrates. Also feeds on
carrion and at dumps.
Airola, D. A., ed. 1980. California wildlife habitat relationships
program: Northeast Interior
Zone. Vol III. Birds. U.S. Dep. Agric.,
For. Serv., Lassen Natl. For., Susanville. 590pp.
Bent, A. C. 1946. Life histories of North American jays,
crows, and titmice. U.S. Natl. Mus.
Bull. 191. 495pp.
Craighead, J. J., and F. C. Craighead, Jr. 1956. Hawks,
owls and wildlife. Stackpole Books,
Harrisburg, PA. 443pp.
Dawson, W. L. 1923. The birds of California. 4 Vols. South
Moulton Co., San Diego. 2121pp.
Desante, D. F., and D. G. Ainley. 1980. The avifauna of the South
California. Studies in Avian Biol. No.
4. Cooper Ornithol. Soc., Lawrence KA. 104pp.
Gaines, D. 1977b. Birds of the Yosemite Sierra. California
Syllabus, Oakland. 153pp.
Garrett, K., and J. Dunn. 1981. Birds of southern
California. Los Angeles Audubon Soc.
Grinnell, J., and A. H. Miller. 1944. The distribution of the
birds of California. Pac. Coast
Avifauna No. 27. 608pp.
Harrison, C. 1978. A field guide to the nests, eggs and nestlings
of North American birds.
W. Collins Sons and Co., Cleveland, OH.
Harrison, C. J. O., ed. 1978. Bird families of the world.
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.
Hooper, E. G., H. S. Crawford, D. R. Chamberlain, and R. F. Harlow.
1975. Nesting density
of common ravens in the Ridge Valley region
of Virginia. Am. Birds 29:931-935.
McCaskie, G., P. De Benedictis, R. Erickson, and J. Morlan. 1979.
Birds of northern
California, an annotated field list.
2nd ed. Golden Gate Audubon Soc., Berkeley. 84pp.
Ratcliffe, D. A. 1962. Breeding density in the peregrine
falcon, Falco peregrinus, and raven,
Corvus corax. Ibis 104:12-39.
Compiled from information from California Department of Fish and Game - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group