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New Zealand Falcon
Falco novaeseelandiae

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Bush Hawk, New Zealand Hawk, New Zealand Bush Falcon, Quail Hawk.

Falco novaeseelandiae
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian. Endemic to NEW ZEALAND. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Formerly placed in a separate genus Nesierax or in Hieracidea with F. berigora, to which it is most closely related (del Hoyo et al. 1994). There are three morphologically and ecologically distinct populations, based on differences in size, color, and habitat preferences, but they are not formally recognized as races (del Hoyo et al.). The "Brush Falcon" is found in forests of the North Island and northwestern South Island, the "Eastern Falcon" occurs in the open country of the South Island, and the "Southern Falcon" is restricted to coastal Fiordland, Stewart Isaland, and the Auckland Islands (Heather and Robertson 1996). more....

Movements: Partial migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Fox 1977, 1978, Bildstein 2006). Also an altitudinal migrant in some areas. A female fitted with a satellite transmitter and followed for a three-year period from February 2002 was indeed largely sedentary, wandering a maximum of 137 km from the center of her 200 km▓ home range (Holland and McCutcheon 2007).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in areas which provide a mosaic of forest and open country, and the birds often hunt in the more open parts of their home range, especially in river valleys (Fox 1977). They also forage within forest clearings, at forest edges, or where emergent trees break the canopy (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on birds, but also takes small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Hyde and Worthy (2010) analyzed prey remains from Adams Island (Auckland Islands), and identified 18 species of birds, including both seabirds and endemic land birds. The presence of procellariiform seabirds in the diet suggested nocturnal hunting.

Breeding: Nest sites are in open areas in native forests and, more recently, in exotic tree (pine) plantations which contain clearings from harvest rotation (Holland and McCutcheon 2007).

Conservation: Of the three distinct subpopulations of the New Zealand Falcon, the "Southern Falcon" is classified as "Nationally Endangered," and the "Bush Falcon" and "Eastern Falcon" as "Nationally Vulnerable" (Miskelly et al. 2008). Bell (2008) reported that recent and ongoing survey results show an increase in the eastern South Island areas, but a decline from unknown causes in the North Island, particularly west of Lake Taupo. There are no recent confirmed reports from Northland. The increase in the South Island is probably due to the falcon's use of exotic pine plantations and possibly other modified habitats. There have noticeable increases in sightings on Banks Island and Wellington (Bell op cit.). BirdLife International (2008) categorizes the New Zealand Falcon as "Near Threatened." more....

Population Estimates: Fox (1978) estimated the total population at 2,000-4,500 breeding pairs, with 450-850 pairs of "Bush Falcons," 3,100- 3,200 pairs of "Eastern Falcons," and 140-280 pairs of "Southern Falcons." Recent estimates for the same populations are 400-800 pairs of Bush Falcons, 2,000-3,000 pairs of Eastern Falcons, and less than 250 pairs of Southern Falcons (Eakle 2008).

Important References: 
Bell, D. 2008. New Zealand Falcon. P. 6 in The state of New Zealand's
  birds 2007: special report, New Zealand bird atlas.
BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened birds of the world. Lynx Edicions
  and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge, UK.
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. New Zealand Hobby. P. 269 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Fox, N.C. 1977. The biology of the New Zealand Falcon Falco
Gmelin 1788. Ph.D. thesis, University of Canterbury,
  Christchurch, New Zealand.
Heather, B.D., and H.A. Robertson. 1996. A field guide to the birds of
  New Zealand. Viking, Auckland, New Zealand.
Marchant, S., and P. Higgins (eds.). 1990. Handbook of Australian, New
  Zealand, and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2. Raptors to lapwings. Oxford University
  Press, Melbourne, Australia.
Robertson, C.J.R., P. Hyv÷nen, M.J. Fraser, and C.R. Pickard. 2007. Atlas
  of bird distribution in New Zealand, 1999-2004. The Ornithological Society
  of New Zealand, Inc., Wellington, New Zealand.
Seaton, R. 2007. The ecological requirements of the New Zealand Falcon
  (Falco novaeseelandiae) in plantation forestry. Ph.D. dissertation,
  Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.
Seaton, R., N. Hyde, J.D. Holland, E.O. Minot, and B.P. Springett. 2008.
  Breeding season diet and prey selection of the New Zealand Falcon (Falco
) in a plantation forest. Journal of Raptor Research

Sites of Interest:
New Zealand Falcon photos.
Karearea, The Pine Falcon
A moving, award-winning film on the survival of the New Zealand Falcon in the face of fierce commercial forestry logging practices.

Kross, Sara
Seaton, Richard
Szabo, John

Last modified: 8/5/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: New Zealand Falcon Falco novaeseelandiae. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jun. 2020

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