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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
2006 Field Season
Erin Gott — in Aplomado Falcon Restoration    ShareWe’ve accomplished a lot since the last update, so here is a quick summary to get everyone up to
speed:

Spring/Summer 2005

Paul Juergens and I built and placed 22 barred nesting boxes on Laguna Atascosa NWR (LANWR), Matagorda Island NWR (MINWR), and neighboring areas, bringing the total amount of nesting structures to 49. With the addition of the nest structures and the natural nest sites, 63 wild Aplomado Falcons fledged in 2005. With the South Texas wild population up and running, all of our release efforts are now occurring in the trans-Pecos region of West Texas.

The 2005 hack season saw record breaking numbers with 84% of 138 released Aplomado Falcons, from six sites, reaching independence. A total of 1,142 captive-bred Aplomado Falcons have now been released in Texas.

March 1, 2006

Paul and I returned to South Texas on 1 February. After setting up shop at Laguna Atascosa NWR, Paul and I sat down to design a new barred nest box. Although our older nest boxes work well in most circumstances, there are a few falcon territories on LANWR that continually fail to fledge young. One such territory has failed to fledge a single falcon after eight years of adult occupancy. Each year since 1997 an adult pair of Aplomado Falcons produced eggs/ young chicks only to mysteriously fail. In 2005 the pair started incubating chicks in a barred structure and appeared to have young before the nest failed. Based on the evidence (or lack of) found at the nest site, Paul and I believe the culprit to be avian. The new barred structure is longer, wider and lower with narrower bar spacings. Hopefully this new barred nest box will allow the falcons to access the nest while preventing unwanted predators. Paul and I built four of these new barred nest boxes, we placed three on LANWR and the fourth on a MINWR neighboring territory. Four older barred nest boxes were also placed in similar territories.

To date, only five territorial Aplomado Falcon pairs have been observed in South Texas. Only
one of these pairs was observed displaying courtship behavior at a nest site. For the most part the LANWR Aplomado Falcons are proving difficult to track down this early spring. The pairs seem aloof within their territories. Both Paul and I are fairly confidant that it’s a behavior difference (compared to past years) rather then a lack/loss of territorial falcon pairs. For example, after searching for one of our normally predictable pairs yesterday, we finally found them over three miles away from their “usual” spot. Of course the season is young and there is plenty of time to locate all the pairs before the breeding season starts.

The last bit of news is the discovery of a new territorial pair just off of Matagorda NWR in which both falcons are adult. The male is from a 2004 Matagorda open platform and the female is from a 2001 Kenedy Ranch release over 100 miles south. The female had not been observed since her release in 2001. This means she has been living (and potentially breeding) outside our known study area for more than four years. In a population where every bird counts, this bit of information is very exciting. We will provide updates throughout the season. Best wishes from
all of us in the field.

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