Archived 2011-2012 topics: Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus): request for information

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].

BirdLife species factsheet for Orange-breasted Falcon

Orange-breasted Falcon Falco deiroleucus is a resident of tropical and subtropical forests in southern Mexico, Central America and much of South America. It is currently listed as Least Concern, as it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is so far not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).

A detailed study by Berry et al. (2010) highlights the overall population decline and range contraction observed in this species and cites a number of threats that are likely to be impacting it. Habitat loss and fragmentation driven by forest clearance for crops, livestock farming and orchards, are probably the main threats to this species. Infrastructure developments also have harmful effects, such as hydroelectric dams that lead to habitat loss, increased disturbance and the risk of collisions and electrocution from power-lines. Habitat fragmentation and human settlement of new areas also leads to local increases in the numbers of Black Vultures Coragyps atratus, which are important nest predators and competitors, and direct persecution of F. deiroleucus by humans has been recorded. Africanised Bees are also cited as a potential threat (Berry et al. 2010).

Estimating the rate of decline in widespread species is always challenging, but further information and data are nevertheless required in order to assess this species’s threat status. If evidence suggests that the overall rate of decline is approaching 30% (typically 20-29%) over three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be c.18 years, the species would probably qualify for uplisting to Near Threatened. Evidence of a decline of at least 30% over 18 years would probably make the species eligible for uplisting to Vulnerable. Information and comments on this species are invited.


Berry, R. B., Benkman, C. W., Muela, A., Seminario, Y. and Curti, M. (2010) Isolation and decline of a population of the Orange-breasted Falcon. Condor 112: 479-489.

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7 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus): request for information

  1. This species is probably more widespread in Amazonia than people realise, the first Amazonian nest was only found recently and that was in matrix habitats (cattle pasture).

  2. However, Orange-breasted Falcon it was notably not as common here as in the Serranía de La Macarena, in the adjacent eastern andes Cordillera. We only saw three individuals in 2 km

  3. I am the Director of the Peregrine Fund’s Orange-breasted Falcon Program and lead author of the 2010 Condor ms documenting research on the species in Mesoamerica. I also confirm OBF identification records for eBird. Updating the demographic data from the Condor ms for the 2010-11 years, the significant decline in occupancy from the 1990s continues (P= 0.0012) with productivity nearly significant at P = 0.06. In 2011, 15 of 20 territories were occupied, eleven failed and four pairs fledged eight young. Overflights 2009 -11 in southern Guatemala, Honduras and a small area in Chiapas, Mexico helped confirm isolation of the small Belize/Guatemala population we now estimate at ~ 30 pairs, plus a small number of juveniles and unmated adults. eBird records 2009 – 14 November 2011 did not confirm a single OBF sighting in Mesoamerica beyond the Mountain Pine Ridge and Tikal Park in our study area, but confirmed 94 records in South America at 60 locations including Wikiavis records, despite significant eBird coverage in Mesoamerica compared to SA. The population appears to be small, isolated and declining in Mesoamerica and vulnerable to significant extinction risk. In SA, the population is widely but thinly distributed. We are encouraged by several recent records in lowland Amazonia and the Atlantic Forest regions of Brazil. We recommend a red list classification of “data deficient” in SA.

  4. Joe Taylor says:

    Please note that this species is now proposed to be uplisted to Near Threatened on the basis of projected deforestation in Amazonia alone. For further details, see the topic: ‘Input required on proposal to uplist a suite of Amazonian birds owing to predicted declines from projected forest loss’

  5. The species is probably declining more quickly than is realized, and may be absent from large portions of its former or hypothetical range. Intensive surveys in optimal habitat in Honduras have yielded nothing more than anecdotal sightings. More than likely the species is extirpated from Honduras, despite vast tracts of suitable habitat. The species certainly warrants concern. Without solid data on its density in Amazonia, it appears that its status in that region is based on anecdotal information. This leads me to think that it is less common that many want to believe.

  6. I have never seen this species in my 14 years of experience in Bolivia, including expeditions into the most remote forests of Madidi, Pilon Lajas, and Noel Kempff National Parks. The deep forest expeditions found the giant river otter, Harpy Eagle and tame Currasow populations you would expect far away from people, but no Orange-breasted Falcon. I have been well aware of what the species is like and where it could be, but no data. My experience is only in Bolivia, but it brings me to the conclusion that it must be a very rare species, and we should be careful in assuming populations where we have no data.

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