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Recent nesting and current status of Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) in New Mexico

To assess the current status of the species in New Mexico, we conducted formal surveys andinformal searches in suitable habitat in the southwestern and south-central portions of the state between 2000 and 2004.

Aplomado Falcons (Falco femoralis) historically ranged within the United States from southeastern Arizona across southern New Mexico to western Texas, as well as in southernmost Texas. The species was resident and at least locally common within its United States range through the 1800s. It became uncommon by the 1930s and had largely disappeared by the 1940s, with the last documented nesting in 1952; it was federally listed as endangered in 1986. More recently, documentation of breeding Aplomado Falcons in northern Chihuahua, Mexico and increased reports from throughout the historic range in southern New Mexico suggested that natural recolonization of New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert grasslands was underway. To assess the current status of the species in New Mexico, we conducted formal surveys and informal searches in suitable habitat in the southwestern and south-central portions of the state between 2000 and 2004. We found one territory that remained occupied by Aplomado Falcons from October 2000 through the project completion in 2004. This pair successfully fledged three young in 2002, the first such nesting by naturally occurring Aplomado Falcons in the United States in 50 years. We also observed at least eight other falcons, including a new pair in the monitored territory and another pair nearby. Additionally during 2000-2004, we received credible reports of 11 falcons, including one pair, elsewhere in New Mexico, plus others just south of the United States-Mexico border. The existence of an occupied territory in southern New Mexico, plus reports of additional pairs and individuals on both sides of the international border, indicate the presence of a population in southern New Mexico and adjacent northern Chihuahua.

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