2004 Field Season Update
Erin Gott— 27 April 2004 — in Aplomado Falcon Restoration ShareSince the last update the Aplomado Team has been busy reading bands, observing pairs, and locating active nests in South Texas. To date we observed 81 individual Aplomado Falcons between Matagorda Island NWR and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The team has collectively read 68 Aplomado identification bands from 38 pairs and seven non-paired Aplomado Falcons (with nine un-banded falcons within the population). So far 29 Aplomado pairs are incubating eggs in a variety of natural and human-made nests. The big news is 15 of our falcon pairs are nesting in our artificial nest boxes.
For the first time since the history of the Aplomado Project, our field biologists observed polygyny in two of our Aplomado Falcon pairs. The first pair of Aplomado Falcons, known as the Middle Tower pair, is currently on eggs approximately 1.3 miles east of last year’s nest. Three weeks ago I observed an adult female hanging out on the barred nest box located in the 2003 nesting area. A week later Paul Juergens observed the original pair exchange food at their new nesting area, copulate, and continue incubating. One hour later Paul observed the new adult female perched on the barred nest box. After 20 minutes of observing the new female, Paul recorded an adult male fly in to join her on the barred structure. The pair displayed to each other and copulated. Excited by the prospect of a new pair Paul snuck in to read the male’s band and quickly identified him as the Middle Tower male. The male stayed with the new female for approximately 35 minutes then flew back east towards his incubating female.
One week later Paul, Jessi Brown, and I observed the same behavior with our La Clinica pair near Brownsville. We first observed an adult female on a fence in the La Clinica territory. Upon reading the female’s band Jessi identified her as a new female. Five minutes later she was joined by a male Aplomado Falcon, they copulated and spent 10 minutes preening together. The male then left the female and flew approximately 600 meters east to join a second female on a dead mesquite bush. We snuck in and identified these two falcons as the old La Clinica pair. Soon the La Clinica female left the male to start incubating eggs in a natural nest 40 meters south. Within 20 minutes the old male was back with the new female perched on a fence line 400 meters north of the nest.
The big news from the field is two different Aplomado Falcon nests near Laguna Atascosa NWR now have chicks. One is in a barred nest box, while the second in an old raven’s nest.
With more chicks on the way, the field team is gearing up for banding season.
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