New Zealand falcon

New Zealand falcon
Falco novaeseelandiae

Photo by Steve Attwood (Steve X2)

Common name:
New Zealand falcon (en); falcão-maori (pt); faucon de Nouvelle-Zélande (fr); halcón maorí (es); maorifalke (de)

Order Falconiformes
Family Falconidae

This species is endemic to New Zealand, being found in both the North Island and the South Island, as well as in Stewart Island and its outliers, and the Auckland Islands.

These birds are 36-48 cm long and have a wingspan of 66-91 cm. They weigh 420-600 g.

The New Zealand falcon is mostly found in forests and scrublands, but also grasslands, pastures and rough farmland. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.100 m.

They mostly hunt birds, up to the size of a heron or duck, but will also hunt small mammals up to the size of a hare, insects, small reptiles and will sometimes also eat carrion.

These birds breed in September-February. The nest in a simple scraped hollow on a sheltered cliff edge, in an epiphyte high in a tree, or on the ground under a log or bush. There the female lays 2-4 reddish brown eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 29-35 days. The chicks fledge 32-35 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 3 months later. Each pair raises a single brood per season.

IUCN status – NT (Near Threatened)
The New Zealand falcon has a relatively large breeding range and the global population size is estimated at 2.500-10.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline due to habitat destruction through forest clearance, human persecution especially by pigeon and poultry keepers, and egg predation by the introduced brush-tailed possum Trichosurus vulpecula.

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