New Zealand falcon
|New Zealand falcon|
The New Zealand falcon or kārearea in Māori (Falco novaeseelandiae) is New Zealand's only falcon. Other common names for the bird are bush hawk and sparrow hawk. It is frequently mistaken for the larger and more common swamp harrier. It is the country's most threatened bird of prey, with only around 3000–5000 breeding pairs remaining.
Ornithologists variously described the New Zealand falcon as an aberrant hobby or as allied to three South American species (F. deiroleucus, F. rufigularis, and F. femoralis); however molecular phylogenetic studies show that it is most closely related to the South American Aplomado falcon Two forms are apparent from their significantly different sizes with the larger race in the South Island and the smaller in the North Island. Although neutral genetic markers show a recent history of these two forms, the substantial size difference is likely to be driven by ecological adaptation. Conservation management had already avoided mixing of the North Island (Falco novaeseelandiae ferox) and South Island (Falco novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae) populations.
With a wingspan between 63 cm (25 in) and 98 cm (39 in) and weight rarely exceeding 450 g (16 oz), the New Zealand falcon is slightly over half the size of the swamp harrier, which it usually attacks on sight. The male is about two-thirds the weight of the female.
It differs from the much larger swamp harrier or kāhu, common throughout New Zealand, in that it catches other birds in flight and rarely eats carrion.
Distribution and habitat
The New Zealand falcon is mainly found in heavy bush and the steep high country in the South Island, and is rarely seen north of a line through the central area of the North Island. A small population also breeds on the Auckland Islands; the species is known from the Chatham Islands from fossil remains.
An aggressive bird that displays great violence when defending its territory, the New Zealand falcon has been reported to attack dogs, as well as people.
The New Zealand falcon nests in a scrape in grassy soil or humus in various locations: under a rock on a steep slope or on a rock ledge, among epiphytic plants on a tree branch, or under a log or branch on the ground,or on bare ground, making the two or three eggs that they lay vulnerable to predators such as stray cats, stoats, weasels, possums, and wild dogs.
Relationship with humans
Although protected since 1970, the kārearea is a threatened species, with fewer than 8000 birds remaining. They continue to be persecuted by farmers and pigeon-owners: up to three-quarters of falcons die in their first year, mostly as a result of human actions.
Falcons for Grapes programme
In 2005, funding was given by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry towards a programme that uses the falcons to control birds that damage grapes and act as pests in vineyards as well as monitoring the birds and establishing a breeding population in the vicinity of the Marlborough wine region. Initially, four falcons were relocated to the vineyards from the surrounding hills. After the release of a further 15 birds breeding began to occur – the first time it is thought to have happened since land clearance 150 years ago.
A major ongoing threat to the birds is electrocution. Both a five-year radio tracking study  of released birds in Marlborough and an observational study in Glenorchy have attributed nearly half of the bird deaths to electrocution on 11,000 volt distribution transformers and structures.
The proverb "Me te kopae kārearea" or "like the nest of kārearea" means 'rarely seen.' 
- BirdLife International (2012). "Falco novaeseelandiae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
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- Moon, Geoff. (2010). New Zealand forest birds and their world. Auckland, N.Z.: New Holland. p. 37. ISBN 9781869661960. OCLC 314752354.
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- "SFF Project Summary". Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter
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- "Protection sought for vineyard falcons". Radio New Zealand. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Fox; Wynn (2010). "The impact of electrocution on the New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae)". Notornis. 57 (2): 71–74.
- Waite, Ed (2017). "Causes of mortality for kārearea / New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae) in the Whakatipu district". Notornis. 64: 21–23.
- 2006 New Zealand Falcon coin sets Archived 13 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 6 April 2006.
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- Murdoch, Riley (2001). Maori Bird Lore. Viking Sevenseas NZ. p. 72. ISBN 0854671005.
- Crichton, Sandy (May 2009), "On a wing and a prayer", Forest & Bird, pp. 21–25
- Seaton, Richard (2007), "The ecological requirements of the New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae) in plantation forestry.", Unpublished PhD thesis, Massey University, Palmerston North
- Thomas, Andrew C.W. (2008), "The Behaviour and Development of New Zealand Falcons (Falco novaeseelandiae) Nesting in a Plantation Forest.", Unpublished MSc thesis, Massey University, Palmerston North
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Falco novaeseelandiae.|
- Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust - The national centre for the conservation, education and advocacy of birds of prey in New Zealand. Location: Rotorua, NZ.
- Raptor Association of New Zealand
- New Zealand Falcon New Zealand Birds Online
- New Zealand falcon/Kārearea at Department of Conservation (New Zealand)
- New Zealand Falcon at Birdlife International
- New Zealand falcon at Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
- Assessment of the potential for the integration of New Zealand falcon conservation and vineyard pest management
- Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust