Falcon Studies

The World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls



Alexander Abuladze (Poster)

The Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus in Georgia

The Peregrine is a widespread but rare resident (F.p. brookei), passage and winter visitor (F.p. peregrinus). Before the 1950s it was regarded as common but not otnumerous. A sharp drop in numbers occurred in 1950-60 due to shooting, disturbance, pesticides, and it was extirpated as a regular breeder in 1960-70. In the 1970s it was recorded as a very rare migrant and winterer. After the mid-1980s it again nested in NW areas. Later on breeding was confirmed in some eastern areas and the Lesser Caucasus. It inhabits areas with mature forests, rocky areas, cliffs, gorges at Trialeti Ridge, Ktsia River basin, Borjomi Gorge, Terek River valley.

Probably several pairs sporadically nest in SE areas, Upper Ajaria, Erusheti Ridge, Mtkvari River valley, a few other sites. Pairs inhabit places little-visited by people. Upper limit of breeding distribution is 2000m, usually up to 1500m. Pairs are attached to nesting territories for many years. Most often they occupy Raven nests on rock shelves or shallow niches in rocks. Modern estimate is 15-20 pairs, probably a little more. In the 1990s the number of migrating and wintering birds has increased. 150-200 birds were considered to migrate in autumn; latest wintering population estimated at 30-50.

BCUG /IInstitute of Zoology of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Chavchavadze 31, Tbilisi 380079, Georgia.

Tel. (+99 5 32) 220164 or 232083  Email: bcug@mail.ge  www.bcug.narod.ru

Adiv Gal1&2, Bill Woodley3, Ohad Hatzofe3, Igal Miller3, (Poster)

David Saltz4 and Uzi Motro2

Preliminary Result from a Recovery Project of the Lesser Kestrel Falco tinnunculus in Israel

Non-degradable pesticides presumably caused the eradication of most Lesser Kestrel (LK) colonies in natural habitats in Israel during the mid-20th century. Because these pesticides are used no more, we hypothesize that the failure of traditional approaches (e.g. legal and habitat protection) to induce colony re-establishment is due to LK ontogeny and behaviour. Consequently, our work focuses on establishing new self-sustaining colonies and the factors that induce their formation. We selected two areas for our study: (1) Ramat Ha-Nadiv (RH) - a nature reserve where a LK colony existed in the past, and Me˘arot Wadi (MW) - where a cliff and adjacent habitat suggest a good site for a LK colony, but with no evidence of past colonization. During spring 2001 we released 19 chicks from RH, and 12 chicks from MW. During spring 2002 we released 12 chicks from RH. All the chicks raised by hacking. During spring 2002, six of 19 individuals released in RH in 2001 were seen near the hacking boxes. None of the 12 chicks released in MW were seen. A recorded existence of past colonization seems to be a more reliable indicator of reintroduction success than habitat characteristics alone.

1. Dept. of Evolution, Systematics & Ecology, Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 Jerusalem 91904, Israel. Tel: + 97 2 53 689679  Email: gala01@pob.huji.ac.il

2. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

3. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

4. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Jim Groombridge and Carl G. Jones (Oral)

Phylogrnrtic History of African Kestrels reveals Correlates of Evolutionary and Ecological Distinctiveness on Mauritius

The evolutionary relationship between African kestrels, and their radiation across the Indian Ocean islands, has attracted much debate from both evolutionary biologists and conservationists tasked with recovering the endangered island taxa. A molecular phylogeny (1.0 kb mitochondrial cytochrome-b) of African kestrels, has delivered a novel perspective on the distinctiveness of several mainland and endemic island kestrels. Our molecular phylogeny supports an Old World origin for typical kestrels and an ancient divergence of kestrels into the New World, and indicates a more recent radiation of kestrels towards Mauritius and the Seychelles. The arrival of kestrels on Mauritius appears consistent with the cessation of major island-forming volcanic activity there, whereas colonisation of the Seychelles from Madagascar appears compatible with the emergence of smaller islands during Pleistocene sea level changes. Our molecular study reveals the Mauritius Kestrel to be the most evolutionarily distinct island kestrel, a finding that appears compatible with striking morphological and behavioural adaptations of this forest-dwelling specialist for preying on Phelsuma geckos. Our molecular study underlines the taxonomic status and conservation priority that has ensured the successful recovery of this ecologically unique island species.

Jim J. Groombridge, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, Dept of Anthropology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NS, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1227 824097  Fax: +44 (0)1227 827839  Email: j.groombridge@ukc.ac.uk

Carl G. Jones, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Les Augres Manor, Trinity, Jersey JE3 5BP, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)1534 860000  Fax: +44 (0)1534 860001  Email: carljones@intnet.mu

Anatoliy S. Levin1 and Nick N. Beryozovikov

The recent status of the Saker Falcon Falco cherrug in Kazakhstan

A monitoring project assessing the distribution, density and productivity of Saker Falcons Falco cherrug have been carried out in Kazakhstan since 1993. According to annual nesting territories monitoring census, Kazakhstan Saker falcon population declined 8-10 times in the period 1993 - 2002 and it is recently at the brink of extinction. In some mountain ridges Sakers ceased to exist. The current total number of the population in Kazakhstan is estimated as 150-200 breeding pairs. Since 2000 to 2002 we surveyed Sakers in the east regions of Kazakhstan. The new occupied nest territories were found in Djungarskiy Alatau, Tarbagatay and Manrak Mountains. The density of occupied nests at that ridges in 2002 was higher, then previous years. It can be associated with the increase of Suslik's populations. Kazakhstan government stopped providing falcon export licenses for the foreign trappers since 2002 and this can be a cause of stabilisation the number of the Sakers at the east of country.

1. Institute of Zoology, Academgorodok, Almaty 480060, Kazakhstan

 Email: levin_saker@nursat.kz

Valeri Moseikin1 and David H. Ellis2 (Oral)

Ecological Aspects of Distribution for Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) and Altai Gyrfalcons (F. altaicus) in the Russian Altai

In annual expeditions beginning in 1991, we found that during the nesting period, Altai Gyrfalcons (Falco altaicus) and Saker Falcons (F. cherrug ) occupy divergent ecological niches and their ranges generally do not overlap. Altai Gyrfalcons were never seen in flat-steppe and forest-steppe biotopes, which are occupied only by Sakers. In mountain areas, Sakers occupy forest-steppe and semi-desert sites of the southern foothills of the mountains and montane steppe up to the zone of perennial snowfields. Nesting Altai Gyrfalcons are found in the zone of wet mountain taiga and adjoining areas of wet tundra and bogs, habitats which Sakers avoid. The only zone where Sakers and Altai Gyrfalcons meet is the area of cold, montane steppe (at elevations above 2000 metres), but the number of Sakers in this biotope is much higher than that of the Altai Gyrfalcons. Here there are even mixed pairs (one mate is an Altai Gyrfalcon while the other is a Saker) and individuals with mixed attributes (i.e., hybrids). In autumn, Sakers migrate from the high elevation nesting areas whereas most Altai Gyrfalcons remain in the Altai Mountains and winter under the severe conditions found there. We advance criteria for distinguishing Sakers and Altai Gyrfalcons.

1. Russian Bird Conservation Union. Fax: +7 84511 32886  Email: moseikin@engels.san.ru

2. David H. Ellis, USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, HC 1 Box 4420, Oracle, AZ 8523. USA

 Email: dcellis@theriver.com

Philippe Pilard and Luc Brun (Poster)

Population Dynamics and Management of the endangered Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni in the plain of Crau (France)

The demographic parameters of the Lesser Kestrel population in the plain of Crau have been estimated through monitoring of a breeding and colour-ringing programme realized from 1994 to 2002. 658 chicks (85%) have been ringed. The mean values for demographic parameters are 1.83 for productivity of fledglings, 0.66 for adult survival, 0.54 for juvenile survival, 92% for proportion of adults attempting breeding, 48% for proportion of yearlings attempting breeding. The observed annual growth rate between 1994 and 2002 is l = 1.085. We modelled the population dynamics using a Leslie matrix.  Simulations show that there is about 15% of immigrant breeding birds in the population. The population would also be viable without immigrant birds because the growth rate remains positive (l = 1.036). Breeding sites management, to reduce predation in the plain of Crau, could permit a growth rate between 1.16 and 1.21. On the other hand, if predation increases, we would notice a population decrease for a productivity of fledglings less than 1.40 per breeding pair.

Philippe Pilard, LPO, 26 avenue Alain Guigue, 13104 Mas Thibert, France

Tel/Fax: +33 4 90 98 7489  Email: philippe.pilard@wanadoo.fr

Luc Brun, EPHE, 3 avenue Alain Guigue, 13104 Mas Thibert, France

Dietrich Ristow (Oral)

On the Insect Diet of Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae ) and its Importance for Coloniality

Pellets near nests and insect fragments in nests of Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) nesting in an island colony near Crete were collected during 1965 to 2001 and used to analyze the insect diet. Results are compared with other respective data across the species' range. The hunting behaviour on small and large insects in flight is described and discussed as to its importance for communal feeding, gregarious roosting and coloniality in falcons.

Paooelstr. 35, D-85579, Neubiberg, Germany

Tel: + 49 89 602768  Email: dietrich.ristow@t-online.de

Jan Riegert and Roman Fuchs (Poster)

lndividual Hunting Behaviour of Urban Kestrels ( Falco tinnunculus)

During the breeding season 2002 the habitat choice, hunting behaviour and hunting success of Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus ) were recorded in surroundings of Ceské BudeĽjovice (southern Bohemia, 100.000 inhabitants). Four Kestrel males were radio-tracked and ten males were marked by wing-tags. In the second phase of the breeding season (June) the males visited more distant hunting grounds (mean 730 vs. 1470 m from nest site, ANOVA, p=0.0007). The hunting Kestrels chose meadows more frequently (46.5%), then wasteland (19.7%) and corn-fields (15.5%). The habitat choice differed from the offer significantly (Chi-test, p=0.00001). The habitat choice also differed significantly among individual males (GLM, p=0.0002). Some males showed high fidelity to one type of hunting habitat, while others seemed to be generalists. Also the size of feeding territory differed among males much. We can distinguish three groups: (1) the male visited only one or two grounds, (2) the male visited more grounds, which were irregularly changed, (3) the male visited a large amount of grounds, and its territory was very large. The size of territory was negatively related to the distance of nest from city centre (r=0-49, p=0.07). The number of caught voles was similar among all males. Although, some males need less time and a lower number of strikes to catch the vole. The hunting succcess of males was not related to the size of territory, but corresponded well with habitat choice.

Biologická fakulta Jihocheské univerzity v Ceske Budejovice 370 05, Branisovská ,34, 370 05

Email: j.riegert@email.cz

Dietrich Ristow (Oral)

Sex, Age and Evolution Criteria to be derived from Dark Feather Patterns in the Hobby and Red-footed Falcon Group

More than 600 falcon skins in European museums were examined. Dark patterns in undertail-coverts and rectrices are used to sex juveniloe Falco vespertinus, F. amurensis, F.eleanorae and F subbuteo, whilst the method was not yet successful in F. concolor due to lack of sufficient material. The same approach in adults of these species meets only partial success because the extension of dark areas seems to become smaller with consecutive moults. The general evolution of plumage colouration and the likely involvement of the W-chromosome in this topic are discussed.

Pappelstr. 35, D-85579 Neubiberg, Germany.

Tel: + 49 89 602768  Email: dietrich.ristow@t-online.de

Sergey P. Paskhalny1, Alexander A. Sokolov2, Vasilii A. Sokolov3 (Oral)

and Viktor G. Shtro4

Present Status of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) on the Yamal Peninsula and the Problems of its Protection

According to data from our observations during 1979-99, on constant and temporary plots of 30-100 km2 (>3000 km2) and from motor-boats along >3000 km of rivers and coastline, the total number of Peregrines in the peninsula is 355-370 pairs. In the Arctic tundra of Yamal the nesting density (per 100 km2) is about 0.08 pairs, in north-subarctic tundra 0.34 (140-145), in shrubby tundra 0.53 (195-200). About 50 pairs nested in forest-tundra. We assumed that our estimate may be a bit exaggerated and that in Yamal about 300-350 pairs nest. In 1999-2002, in S-W Yamal. we found some more nest sites that confirm this optimistic prognosis. Now, the increase of human activity in major areas of Peregrine habitat remains the cause of serious anxiety. In most cases restriction of industrial and recreational activity near the known nest sites are sufficient for maintenance of the species' present status. It is necessary to establish a National Park in the Yuribey river basin, where main nest sites are concentrated. Organizing the long-term monitoring of the population before the development of oil and gas fields, and continued registration of nest sites are also necessary.

1. Ecological Research Station of Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of Ural Division of Russian Academy of Sciences, 629400, Zelenaya Gorka 21, Labytnangi, Russia. Email: psp02@mailru.com

2. Email: sokhol@yandex.ru

3. 620144, Lab. of biocenological processes, Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of Ural Division of Russian Academy of Sciences, 202 Vosmoye Marta Str., Ekaterinburg, Russia. Email: sokol@ipae.uran.ru

4. Email: ecostation@lbt.salekhard.ru

Christos Vlachos, Dimitris Bakaloudis and Evangelos Chatzinikos (Oral)

The Status of the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni in Thessaly, Central Greece

The breeding population of Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni ) has been estimated during a 4-year study (1999-2002) in agricultural habitats in Thessaly, Central Greece.

One hundred and thirty four nests of the species were examined and the reproductive variables have been estimated. Mean clutch size was 4.015 eggs (n=134), mean brood size at hatching was 3.318 young (n=110) and mean brood size at fledging was 3.157 young (n=102) per breeding pair. A colony of 8 nests were found on the ground under the remnants of a demolished old building and the reproductive variables compared to those estimated in human settlements.

One hundred and fifty -nine artificial nests (nest-boxes) were provided during 2001-02, in order to investigate if shortage of nesting sites occurs. The occupation rate and breeding parameters were analyzed and compared with breeding pairs nesting in natural sites.

The main causes of the population restriction in the study area and the measures taken to conserve the species are discussed.

Correspondence to C. Vlachosm, Neophytou Douka 10, 54454 Kato Toumpa, Thessaloniki, Greece

Fax: 00 302310 473401  Email: cvlachos@for.auth.gr



© 2003 CTM