Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

Description
Prairie Falcon

Size

  • The prairie falcon is a large falcon similar in size to the peregrine falcon, about 45 centimetres (18 inches) long.

Appearance

  • Overall, the prairie falcon is a light brown falcon.
  • The adult prairie falcon is light brownish grey above and white or cream streaked with dark brown on the underside.
  • From below, it is most easily distinguished by the long, dark feathers under each wing base.
Distribution

The prairie falcon breeds and winters throughout western North America. It is found in the grassland and foothill natural regions of southern Alberta.

Natural History

Habitat

  • Most commonly found on the plains, and only occasionally in wooded areas.
  • Prime prairie falcon habitat is the typically dry open country of the west in the vicinity of:
    • Badlands
    • Canyons
    • Cliffs
    • Coulees
    • Rock outcroppings

Food

Prey includes:

  • birds
  • rodents
  • young rabbits
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behavior

  • Ledges or crevices in cliffs provide inconspicuous eyries, or high nesting places, where the prairie falcon lays three to six cream eggs blotched with brown in scrapes of sand or gravel.
Conservation and Management

Status

The prairie falcon is classified as Sensitive in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See the Status of the Prairie Falcon in Alberta report at:

In a subsequent detailed status assessment, Alberta's Endangered Species Conservation Committee identified the prairie falcon as a Species of Special Concern — a species that without human intervention may soon become threatened with extinction.

Issues

  • Population is dependent on the availability of secure nest sites and an adequate base population of ground squirrels.

Current management

Like all raptors in Alberta, the prairie falcon is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act and classified as a non-game species.

This species is a focal species of the MULTISAR (multiple species at risk) program.

MULTISAR strives to conserve multiple species at risk by working cooperatively with landowners and lease holders to implement voluntary beneficial management practices on native prairie habitat. Surveying local populations, assessing the ecological status of the habitat, developing management recommendations and habitat enhancement projects, and monitoring the species' response over time are key elements of the program. See:

Similar Species
  • Peregrine Falcon
    The prairie falcon is as large as the peregrine but the plumage of the prairie falcon is much paler.
Related links

 

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Posted: Mar 11, 2009