[texbirds] Aplomado Falcon Chicks Released at Mustang Island State Park

  • From: "Stevan Hawkins" <shawkins4@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "'texbirds'" <texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 13:03:44 -0500



Just in case the below has not been posted on TexBirds.  On a related note:
Is Aplomado Falcon "countable" for one's life list anywhere in Texas?






Stevan Hawkins

San Antonio TX



Media Contact: Brian Mutch, The Peregrine Fund, (307) 752-6336; Tom Harvey,
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, (512) 389-4453; Rob McCorkle, Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department, (830) 866-3533; Damon Reeves, Mustang Island
State Park, (361) 749-5246; Bev Gabe, LightHawk, (207) 222-2227; Beau
Hardegree, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (361) 994-9005; Beth Becerra,
Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, (361) 885-6246

July 6, 2012

Aplomado Falcon Chicks Released at Mustang Island State Park

The colorful Aplomado Falcon is regaining a foothold in parts of Texas where
they disappeared more than a half-century ago. On July 1, biologists began
releasing captive-bred Aplomado Falcons to the wild for the first time at
Mustang Island State Park to take advantage of additional habitat that the
endangered birds of prey need to survive.

"We are delighted to have Mustang Island State Park as a partner in this
recovery effort," said Bill Heinrich of The Peregrine Fund, an Idaho-based
conservation organization focused on birds of prey. "The park helps fill in
a gap in habitat between falcon populations that are already
well-established and self-sustaining in South Texas."

Since 1984, The Peregrine Fund has released Aplomado Falcons in wide-open
grassland areas that provide native food and shelter. They are raised in
captivity at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise,

When chicks are about a month old, they are flown to the release sites by
LightHawk, a volunteer aviation group that donates flights for conservation
projects. Fast flights on private aircraft are the best way to ensure that
the chicks arrive with little stress and in good overall health, Heinrich

Over the last three years, LightHawk volunteer pilots have transported more
than 200 Aplomado Falcon chicks to support the reintroduction effort. This
latest flight to Texas is being donated by Carl Mattson and Julie Boyd, of
Denver, Colo., who will be piloting their Cessna 210 turbo.

When the chicks reach Mustang Island State Park, they will be placed at
newly constructed "hack sites." Each site consists of a large wooden box
atop a platform raised 10-12 feet off the ground for protection from
predators. The birds will be fed while they become accustomed to their new
surroundings. A few days later, the door will be opened and the birds will
be able to fly freely. They will continue to be fed and monitored at the
hack site for about two months while they hone their flying and hunting
skills and are able to survive on their own.

Currently there are about 34 nesting pairs in South Texas, spread to the
north and south of Mustang Island, including the Aransas National Wildlife
Refuge Complex and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Aplomado
Falcons were widespread in the American Southwest until the 1950s when their
range was restricted to a few areas in Mexico, most likely due to the
combined effects of habitat changes, pesticides and human persecution.

For the recovery effort, the falcons have been released on both private and
public lands. The Peregrine Fund has enrolled more than 2 million acres of
private Texas ranchland in the Safe Harbor Program, which was developed with
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce landowner concerns over
endangered species on their property and to provide access to habitat for
the falcon.

Aplomado Falcon recovery is a cooperative program with federal, state, and
private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Coastal Bend Bays &
Estuaries Program.

Did you know?

.      Northern Aplomado Falcons were put on the U.S. Endangered Species
List in 1986. 

.      Aplomado is a Spanish word for dark grey, the color of the bird's
back. Adults have a long banded tail and a black cummerbund, contrasting
with a white upper body. A distinguishing characteristic is a white dash
above each eye. They are 15-17 inches in length and weigh 9-14 ounces. 

.      The falcons feed primarily on small birds and insects caught in the
air. They require open grasslands and savannahs where tall cacti, yuccas and
taller pines and oaks grow in open stands. 

.      Aplomado Falcons nest in old stick nests of hawks and other birds
constructed in tall yuccas and lay usually two or three eggs. 

Photo Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the
TPWD Web site ( <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/>




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