Northern Aplomado falcon
Falco femoralis septentrionalis
SPECIES CODE: B06V V01
Listed Endangered (51 FR 6686-6690, 1986 February 25) in entire range. Recovery Plan completed June 08, 1990.
The Northern Aplomado falcon is a subspecies of the Aplomado falcon that inhabits lowland Neotropical savannas, coastal prairies, and higher-elevation grasslands from the southwestern United States south to Tierra del Fuego. The northern subspecies was originally documented in the United States at six general localities in southeastern Arizona, south-central New Mexico, western Texas, and the lower Texas coast. It is currently found only in Texas, as well as Guatemala and Mexico. The Aplomado falcon is approximately 38-43 cm in length, similar in size to the American crow. The northern subspecies is larger and has a longer wing span. It has an extensive and complete black belly-band and light-grayish upperparts (especially noticeable on crown); the tail is banded black and white. Sexes are similar in appearance. Its diet is mostly birds and insects, but also small mammals and reptiles.
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT:
Aplomados nest in bromeliads or abandoned stick platforms of corvids and other raptors. The average clutch size is 3 eggs. Radio-tagged fledglings in south Texas suggest that most pairs use the vicinity of previous season's nesting platform as a hunting, roosting, and display area throughout the year. Exact lifespan is unknown, but one Apolmado in captivity lived 12 years.
RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL:
The Northern Aplomado falcon is currently only found in the United States in the state of Texas, with potential migrants from northern Mexico.
Current wild population trends are difficult to assess and an unknown number of individuals may be found in the wild. Since 1980, the Peregrine Fund, Inc., has produced 545 Aplomado falcons in captivity. Of these, 466 have been released into the wild at 8 sites along the Texas Gulf Coast. In 1999, 115 captive-produced Aplomados were released in Texas.
The northern subspecies prefers coastal prairies and desert grasslands with scattered yuccas and mesquites. They also utilize oak woodlands and riparian gallery forests in midst of desert grassland. The birds tend to perch on inner branches of trees and chase terrestrial prey on foot. The bird displays great speed in long aerial pursuits of doves and pigeons and hovers briefly over trapped prey. Mated pairs remain together year-round and hunt cooperatively.
The Aplomado falcon was greatly impacted by the effects of pesticides, such as DDT, used in northern Mexico and southeastern United States. Extirpation of black-tailed prairie dogs from Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas may have also been influential in eliminating an important prey species. Farming, overgrazing, and water-table depression have converted much grassland. Other factors that contributed to their decline include mortalities caused by power line electrocutions.
Secondary lead poisoning is a serious threat in many portions of the historical U.S. range.
Keddy-Hector, D.P. 2000. Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis). In The Birds of North America, No. 549 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
http://endangered.fws.gov/i/BOY.html. September 1999.