Post details: Project Initiated for Sooty Falcon

2006-10-10

Permalink 07:46:43, Categories: Ringing on Hawar Islands  
Background
By Howard King
Sooty Falcon

In February 2006 I attended the CONSERVATION WORKSHOP OF THE FAUNA OF ARABIA held at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Desert Park Sharjah UAE. The Final report on the activities of the "Small Bird of Prey and Owl Group" (FULL REPORT) states the following

................................

"Perhaps the most important result of the discussion was the realisation that there appears to be a fundamental error in the published information on the known world population of the Sooty Falcon. This species is credited with a world population according to IUCN (BirdLife International 2004. Falco concolor. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 ICUN Red List of Threatened Species; (www.redlist.org.) of 100,000 individuals and similarly in, el Hoyo (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World, as 40,000 pairs. However careful research of all Arabian census data, which is surprisingly complete for this species, has revealed that the total Arabian population is probably just less than 500 breeding pairs. Given that the Arabian population is generally regarded as the largest within its range (perhaps half of the world population) the generally quoted global population may actually be exaggerated by a factor of forty! This issue requires urgent investigation. It is thought that the published total may have been extrapolations of partial counts in the species winter range.....

Recommendation and actions were collected against the following two general topics ..

  • Sooty Falcon population:
    The discrepancy identified between the accepted view of world population and the likely world population suggested from research in Arabia needs to be publicised and brought to the attention of appropriate conservation bodies. The group recommends that urgent efforts are made to identify how the world population of 100,000 birds has been calculated and to alert the IUCN of the discrepancy. This species may actually be endangered rather than ‘least concern’ as currently classified. (Action: Determine origin of published world population of 100,000 birds and report views of group to IUCN/BirdLife as necessary)
  • Sooty Falcon winter range:
    With only limited investment a great deal could be learnt on the non-breeding range of the Sooty Falcon by fitting some with satellite tracking devices. A few fitted at colonies in Bahrain, Oman, northern Red Sea and Yemen would provide extremely valuable information. This study could be extended to other species and include traditional ringing techniques as appropriate. (Action: It is suggested that Howard King could look into how this could be done for the Bahrain colony and of satellite tracking technology.)

Even though in 1998 during my initial survey of the Hawar Islands I reported that Sooty Falcons were the most endangered of Hawar’s breeding species I have not since done, other than annual counts of Hawar’s small population, any serious studies on the species. Without support and previous experience of birds of prey, I felt it was always something beyond my means. That situation has now changed in that Dr. Brendan Kavanagh is now with us here in Bahrain. A Species Biologist and professional Ornithologist, Brendan brings a wealth of experience and provides the technical knowledge that has always been lacking to initiate serious studies on the species.

Following on from the Sharjah Workshop, we have therefore started to seek funds and information for a program of satellite tagging of some of the birds, but in the interim have as of this last weekend initiated a ringing (banding) program for the species. A small step given the small number of chicks involved but at least it's a start.

Each step of our way has as usual been documented photographically by Juhani Kyyrö - However on this occasion we shall not be including on these pages the best of his photos, we are keeping them as a tool for advertising and illustrating the funding aspects of the project and the scientific papers that will follow. We cannot afford to reduce in anyway the WOW factor of those special images.

To find out how we got on click on the NEXT PAGE link below

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