Nov 06 2014
They’re as long as a peregrine but only half their weight. They fly like accipiters or even nighthawks. They hunt cooperatively and can use motorcycles to flush prey.
Aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis) used to nest in savannas, grasslands and shrub-steppe from Arizona to the lower Rio Grande Valley but they disappeared from the U.S. in 1952 due to habitat loss and DDT. They were listed as endangered in 1986.
In 1987 The Peregrine Fund established an aplomado reintroduction program similar to the captive breeding program that restored the peregrine. Since the 1990’s they’ve hacked 1,500 aplomado chicks in South Texas but restoration has been slow and difficult because the young birds face so many dangers in the wild.
The aplomado is still on the Endangered Species list but now breeds again in South Texas. To help the young survive The Peregrine Fund provides special nesting boxes which the adults prefer because the boxes protect their chicks.
Thanks to the reintroduction program I now have the chance to see an aplomado falcon at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.
He’s my goal this week. Introduce me!
(photo by Elaine R. Wilson from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)
p.s. I saw them two days in a row! 5 Nov 2014 on Bill Clark’s Valley Raptors tour and 6 Nov 2014 at Old Port Isabel Road. Yay!