Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Falco novaeseelandiae is endemic to New Zealand, and is separated into three forms - Bush, Southern and Eastern - which vary in plumage, size, range and habitat type (Marchant and Higgins 1993). Bush Falcon (c.650 pairs) breeds in the North Island and north-western South Island; Southern Falcon (c.200 pairs) breeds in Fiordland, Stewart Island and its outliers, and the Auckland Islands (Fox 1978, Heather and Robertson 1997, Bell and Lawrence 2009); Eastern Falcon (c.3,150) is found in open terrain in the eastern South Island (Fox 1978, Heather and Robertson 1997, Bell and Lawrence 2009). It was probably once found throughout the North and South Islands, but may have never been common. Population trends are unknown but it may be declining.

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Range

Locally in New Zealand, Stewart I. and Auckland Islands.

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Physical Description

Type Information

Type for Falco novaeseelandiae
Catalog Number: USNM A13862
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): Collector Unknown
Locality: Bay of Islands, Bay Of Islands, North Island, New Zealand, Australia
  • Type: Peale. 1848. U.S. Exploring Expedition. 8 (mamm. and orn.): 67, pl. xviii.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It occurs predominantly in bush and forest, and Eastern Falcon also breeds in rough farmland and dry tussockland. The species also breeds in exotic pine plantations (Stewart and Hyde 2004) and this is now recognised as a major habitat for the species (Pawson et al. 2010) and extremely high densities can be supported (Seaton 2009). Adults are mainly sedentary but juveniles wander widely and are seen in farmland, orchards and urban areas. Juvenile dispersal may occur earlier in exotic pine plantations (Seaton et al. 2008). Established pairs remain on territory all year and display during late winter and early spring before nesting in September-December. When food availability is high females may breed in their first year (Seaton and Hyde 2008), though age of sexual maturity is typically considered 20 months (Marchant and Higgins 1993). The majority of prey taken are small passerines (Seaton et al. 2008), although prey species several times heavier than the falcon have also been recorded (Hyde and Seaton 2008).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Falco novaeseelandiae

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Stewart, D.

Justification
This species has a moderately small population which may be experiencing declines. However, there are a number of moderately large sub-populations and hence it is classified as Near Threatened.

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Population

Population
Fox (1978) estimated the population at 3,700-4,400 breeding pairs, equating to 7,400-8,800 mature individuals, and a 2010 estimate was also 4,000 pairs though this is based on the same information (Stewart in litt. 2010) Given the estimate is now over 30 years old, and the population may have declined since, the population is best placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The range has been reduced owing to forest clearance (Heather and Robertson 1997) (although it is still large, estimated at a minimum of 100,000 km2) (Fox 1978), and habitat loss is an ongoing, although much reduced, threat. Introduced brush-tailed possum Trichosurus vulpecula take eggs. Although protected since 1970 (Marchant and Higgins 1993), birds are occasionally shot by farmers, and pigeon and poultry keepers (Heather and Robertson 1997), possibly as many as 400 a year (N. Hyde in litt. 1999).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Research into the use of exotic pine plantations by this species is ongoing using radiotracking and colour-banding (Seaton 2009, Seaton et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the three populations and ascertain trends. Evaluate threats if declines are confirmed. Implement control measures against the brush-tailed possum. Raise awareness of the species's status, particularly amongst farmers, in an effort to reduce persecution. Protect areas of suitable habitat. Manage pine plantation habitat to create a high local heterogeneity of stand ages throughout a plantation (Seaton et al. 2010).

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Wikipedia

New Zealand falcon

The New Zealand falcon or kārearea (Falco novaeseelandiae) is New Zealand's only endemic falcon and the only remaining bird of prey endemic to New Zealand. Other common names for the bird are Bush Hawk and Sparrow Hawk. It is frequently mistaken for the larger and more common Swamp Harrier.

Description[edit]

A member of the Falconidae bird family, the New Zealand falcon is mainly found in heavy bush and the steep high country in the South Island and is rarely seen north of a line through the central area of the North Island. A small population also breeds on the Auckland Islands; the species is known from the Chatham Islands from fossil remains. Although protected since 1970, it is considered to be a threatened species.[2]

Ornithologists variously described the New Zealand falcon as an aberrant hobby or as allied to three South American species (F. deiroleucus, F. rufigularis and F. femoralis); however studies of feather proteins suggest a close tie with the Australian Brown Falcon.[3]

It differs from the much larger Swamp Harrier, (or Kāhu), which is common throughout New Zealand, in that it catches other birds on the wing, and seldom eats carrion. An aggressive bird that displays great violence when defending its territory, the New Zealand falcon has been reported to attack dogs as well as people.

With a wingspan of about 45 cm and weight rarely exceeding 450g, the New Zealand falcon is slightly over half the size of the Swamp Harrier, which it usually attacks on sight. The male is about two thirds the weight of the female.[4]

The New Zealand falcon nests in a scrape in grassy soil or humus in various locations: under a rock on a steep slope or on a rock ledge, among epiphytic plants on a tree branch, or under a log or branch on the ground,[5][6] making the two or three eggs that they lay vulnerable to predators such as stray cats, stoats, weasels, possum, and wild dogs.

NZ Falcon - Karearea 08.JPG

Falcons for Grapes programme[edit]

In 2005 funding was given by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry towards a programme that uses the falcons to control birds that damage grapes and act as pests in vineyards as well as monitoring the birds and establishing a breeding population in the vicinity of the Marlborough wine region.[7] Initially, four falcons were relocated to the vineyards from the surrounding hills. After the release of a further 15 birds breeding began to occur - the first time it is thought to have happened since land clearance 150 years ago. A major ongoing threat to the birds is electrocution on electricity distribution transformers with a fifth of the birds killed in this manner.[8][9]

New Zealand falcon (from Buller's Birds of New Zealand, 1888)

Cultural references[edit]

The New Zealand falcon features on the reverse of the New Zealand $20 note and has twice been used on New Zealand stamps. It was also featured on a collectable $5 coin in 2006.[10]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Falco novaeseelandiae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Department of Conservation". Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J., eds. (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2: Raptors to Lapwings. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. p. 290. ISBN 0-19-553069-1. 
  4. ^ Heather, Barrier; Robertson, Hugh (2005). The Field Guide of the Birds of New Zealand (Revised ed.). North Shore, New Zealand: Penguin Books. pp. 277–278. ISBN 978-0-14-302040-0. 
  5. ^ Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J., eds. (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2: Raptors to Lapwings. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. p. 287. ISBN 0-19-553069-1. 
  6. ^ Robertson, C.J.R., ed. (1985). Reader's Digest Complete Book of New Zealand Birds. Surry Hills, NSW: Reader's Digest. pp. 154–155. ISBN 0-949819-97-2. 
  7. ^ "SFF Project Summary". Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Falcons Return to Wairau Plain". Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (press release). 2007-12-13. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "Protection sought for vineyard falcons". Radio New Zealand. 2010-02-25. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  10. ^ 2006 New Zealand Falcon coin sets. Accessed 6 April 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Crichton, Sandy (May 2009), "On a wing and a prayer", Forest & Bird: 21–25 
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