Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus): Revise global status?

This entry was posted in Africa, Asia, Europe & Central Asia, Middle East and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus): Revise global status?

  1. Warren Goodwin says:

    I support the proposed revision based on this assessment.

  2. Natalino Fenech says:

    I think the assessment overlooks the impact of hunting, particularly in Africa, where hunting tourism has seen a massive surge in recent years. There could also be reasons for historic declines due to illegal hunting during migration too. In Malta the Red-footed Falcon used to be a very common spring migrant and rare (single records) in autumn. In spring it used to be often observed in sizable loose flocks. An exceptionally large influx occurred on 29 May 1987, when thousands of birds were seen all over Malta. Although most flocks contained up to 40 birds, some loose flocks of over 100 birds each were seen in various places across the Maltese Islands. During that year, individual birds and small flocks (8 – 22 ) continued to be recorded up to 12 June. Unfortunately, many of the birds were shot. After that year, Red-footed falcons became very scarce. Highest numbers after that year include a flock of 40 on 4 May 1994, and 250 on 30 April 1995, over 160 birds on 28 April 2005 (largest two flocks consisted of 27 and 36 birds), noteworthy passages in 2006 include 11 birds on 23 April and 34 on 6 May. A poor migration marked 2007, with only a small number of sightings recorded in spring alone while spring 2008 produced just over 80 records. A flock of over 80 on 18 May 2015 was the largest flock seen in recent years. The illegal hunting situation in Malta is very different from what it was in 1987. A few are still shot illegally annually, and although such a practice is unacceptable, it is unlikely to cause current declines, but mass shootings such as the one in 1987 could have easily wiped out the population of an entire area. Numbers of Red-footed Falcons seen now is always low but a few birds of different ages (mostly second years to sub-adults) now spend up to 6 weeks in the same area in spring before continuing their migration.

    (Fenech, N. 2010 A complete guide to the birds of Malta p.253, Fenech, N. Birds of the Maltese Islands 2017).

  3. The population size of the species is unknown, due to its colonial breeding and lack of systematic monitoring.

    The nest-box programmes stabilized or increased the number of breeding pairs in the EU (1-4), but we lack of PVA showing the real population effect of these measures. Moreover the species became totally conservation dependent in these regions.

    The population trends is decreasing in case of natural colonies, eg. In Ukraine: “Number of breeding RfF decreased on 23.4% during last nine years (2000 -2009)” (5), in Kazakhstan and Russia: “Decline of 76.5% in natural colonies in agricultural habitats”(6).

    The species disappeared from the eastern and northern breeding areas in Russia (7).

    The high aggregation rate of the RfF in migratory roosts make the species very vulnerable to illegal killing or harvest reported in several different locations, eg. Ukraine (8), Malta (9), Cyprus (10), Angola (11).

    References:
    (1) Palatitz, P., Fehérvári, P., Solt, Sz., Horváth, É., 2015. Breeding population trends and pre-migration roost site survey of the Red-footed Falcon in Hungary. Ornis Hung. 23, 77–93.
    (2) Slobodník, R., Chavko, J., Lengyel, J., Noga, M., Maderič, B., Baláž, M., 2017. Trend in a isolation population of the red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) at the edge of its breeding range (south-western Slovakia). Slovak Raptor J. 83–90.
    (3) Nagy Attila et al 2018. in: Palatitz, P., Solt, S., Fehérvári, P. (Eds.), 2018. The Blue Vesper: Ecology and Conservation of the Red-footed Falcon. MME BirdLife Hungary, Budapest. ISBN: 978-615-80925-4-8
    (4) Calabrese, L., Mucciolo, A., Zanichelli, A., Gustin, M., 2020. Effects of nest boxes on the most important population of red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus in Italy. Conservation Evidence (2020) 20, 35-39
    (5) Yaremchenko, O et al. 2009 Inventory of the Breeding Population of Red-footed Falcon in Ukraine: Spring-Summer 2009 PROJECT REPORT
    (6) E. Bragin pers comm. 2021.
    (7) E. Bragin pers comm. 2018 in Palatitz, P., Solt, S., Fehérvári, P. (Eds.), 2018. The Blue Vesper: Ecology and Conservation of the Red-footed Falcon. MME BirdLife Hungary, Budapest. ISBN: 978-615-80925-4-8
    (8) Yaremchenko, O et al. 2016 in Final report of Action C.8. of LIFE11/NAT/HU/000926: “Secure protection of the most endangered migratory and roosting areas”
    (9) Fenech, N. 2010 A complete guide to the birds of Malta p.253, Fenech, N. Birds of the Maltese Islands 2017
    (10) Ieronymidou Ch. and Hellicar M. 2016 Threats to Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) migratory hot-spots in Cyprus and conservation plan in: Final report of Action C.8. of LIFE11/NAT/HU/000926: “Secure protection of the most endangered migratory and roosting areas”
    (11) Palatitz, P., Fehérvári, P, Borbáth P. and Novák L. 2019 TRIP REPORT OF HUNGARIAN SCIENTISTS TO ANGOLA, 2019 unpublished report

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

All comments must follow the rules of usage.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.